Reds hold on to upset the Highlanders - Green and Gold Rugby

Reds hold on to upset the Highlanders

Reds hold on to upset the Highlanders

If the Reds fans entered this match with any sort of confidence it was firmly on their team’s success rate against the Highlanders over recent years, rather than form on the board in 2016.  The Reds have won six of the last eight encounters against the Highlanders, but their inability to win a single game in this season curtailed any potential confidence. Despite some key players missing the match through injury, the high flying ‘landers were deserved favorites with many tipping an end to the recent Reds run of close losses.

The Match

The Reds produced arguably the best rugby they’ve put together since the salad days of Ewen McKenzie, during their first half of the Highlanders, taking to the changerooms leading 22-6. It looked a little easy for the reigning premiers early with some easy metres, before the Reds were able to grab the early initiative thanks to a Liam Gill try just minutes into the game. The impact of Gill and Hendrick Tui in the pack and then Samu Kerevi and Karmichael Hunt out wide was critical to giving the Reds the edge in delivering their team’s best rugby of the season.

Samu Kerevi offloads to Liam Gill

Liam Gill – a joy to watch even from the Suncorp Stadium turf.

Whilst Lima Sopoaga kicked a penalty soon after Gill’s try a well taken (bordering on fortunate) try to Nick Frisby backing up an Eto Nabuli run from a Kerevi off-load and Reds fans were beginning to have a little hope.  It was still early days however and another Sopoaga penalty kept the Highlanders in touch. The margin returned with McIntyre taking a well chosen field goal in the 25th minute to ensure the Reds’ points tally continued to click.

As the Reds were looking to settle into the half time break with a 15-6 lead, that man Kerevi produced another damaging run to charge his way over for a late try, with the McIntyre conversion taking the score to 22-6 at the break.

The home crowd stood to celebrate the performance of the team for that first stanza, but new that this champion Highlanders team could be back. Normally early points is deemed crucial after such a half, and the Reds were able to put another six points in the bank through a couple of McIntyre penalties. These points perhaps did one (or both) of two things. Lulled the Reds into a comfort zone as to their lead, or spurred the Highlanders on further.

Loyal Queensland fans were starting to look as green as the opposition jerseys as Highlander passes were finally sticking and tries being legally awarded. Aaron Smith darted over first with 30 to go. Then Malakai Fekitoa charged over under the posts with less than 13 minutes left before Sopoaga ran the length of the field, following a Reds turnover, to score in the corner and kick the conversion to narrow the gap to just one point with eight minutes to go.

It was a horrid 8 minutes to watch as a Reds fan as they seem to conspire to give away possession at every opportunity. The Highlanders, as they did for most of the match, struggled to get the passes to hand and maintain continuity and in the end the Reds, as players were dropping everywhere, were able to hold on for what was a remarkable win.

The Highlanders now return home to rest up on a bye weekend, whilst the Reds pack the bags and head to South Africa for a flight that should be all the more enjoyable given the win over the 2015 Super Rugby champions.

Andrew Ready

Wallaby Ready

The Game Changer
In a game so distinctly different across the two halves the only logical answer, in a match that was so illogical, is half time. The Reds seemed to come out prepared to just hold on to their lead rather than replicating their first half performance. The Highlanders just kept throwing everything and it almost paid off.

Shane Christie and Sopoaga were terrific for the Highlanders. But this will go to a Red, of which there were many candidates. Kerevi had his best game for the Reds in ages, Hunt is best game ever whilst Hendrick Tui and Andrew Ready maintain their 2016 season form. The award, however, must go to Liam Gill whose fingerprints on the result were everywhere to be seen.

Wallaby Watch
Karmichael Hunt was superb and there must be questions as to whether Israel Folau is better served on the wing. Andrew Readdy continues to make his case for squad selection. Kerevi proved some doubters wrong and Nabuli continues to show promise and we all know Gill’s class.

The Details

Nick Frisby celebrates the Reds first win of the season

The Reds celebrate their first win of the season

Score & Scorers

Tries: Liam Gill (3′), Nick Frisby (16′), Samu Kerevi (35′)
Conversions: Jake McIntyre (16′, 36′)
Penalties: ( 45′, 51′)
Field Goals: Jake McIntyre (25′)

Tries: Aaron Smith (59′), Malakai Fekitoa (68′), Lima Sopoaga (70′)
Conversions: Lima Sopoaga (60′, 68′, 72′)
Penalties: Lima Sopoaga (7′, 22′)





  • I just wanted to note again to all of those who weren’t there, there was a literal standing ovation for the Reds from the Suncorp crowd and they headed into the sheds at half time. It was great to feel the passion back in the crowd.

    Another interesting note is that the last 4 Reds games have a combined final score difference of 5 points. It’s good to be on the right side of the ledger finally.

    • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

      Sitting at home watching it all, that standing applause at 1/2 time was something that impressed me very much. I love the emotion and passion that Rugby can evoke and to me this was a great example.
      Reds fans have had more than their fair share of rough trots, and for them to show-up and then to acknowledge the players efforts in that way was really wonderful.

  • Marc9ism

    K hunt has really came around this season… Also doesnt kerevi play a very similar game to TKuridrani?

    • muffy

      Except Kerevi can pass and offload….

      • BarneySF

        The top photo doesn’t show the turf, but Kerevi seems REALLY high in the air. Is it just me or is he doing some super duper Quade-style change of direction!? He was definitely playing with confidence which was great to see.

  • Moose

    That was the most entertaining game I’ve seen for a while. Reds thrashing it in the first half, disallowed tries, spilled pill, neck-rolls, general chaos, even an early first half field goal. Excellent first half from the Reds, I suppose the Highlanders helped a bit with the missed tackle count… Well done Reds for hanging on for the win, against last year’s premiers no less. More please, from a Tahs fan.

  • “Karmichael Hunt was superb and there must be questions as to whether Israel Folau is better served on the wing.”
    Yep, although on current form, Israel’s not even in the XV. Let’s hope K.Hunt can keep it up.

    • Pedro

      Yeah Hunt had played well all season, seems to have more time before contact than mortal players.

      He did fumble that kick that resulted in a disallowed try though. If Osborne was on side it would have distinctly changed his rating.

  • Simon

    Fantastic game, well done Reds. They did their best to lose it in the last 20 though. Not sure what it’s going to take to get the message through that if you have possession, in the opposition half, in the lead by 1 lonely point and less than 10 on the clock…. DON’T kick it under any circumstances, especially not against a Kiwi team who have just put three tries on you. What was Frisby thinking with that grubber?!

  • Brisneyland Local

    Wow, wow and wow! – That was entertaining in every sense of the word.
    Michael Cole is absolutely correct about the passion in the crowd. I have noticed it increasing every home game since RG got the boot. The members want victory and want to support their side to win and are willing them forward with belief!
    I really enjoyed this one, Samu Kerevi is a freight train, and Special K was just fantastic.
    Was certainly a scary second half, but I think the difference now is that the Reds have their belief in themselves back, and they now know they can win.
    I still have concerns about Jake Mc running sideways, and his kicking.
    The starch in our defence is definitely Ant Faianga! And he has also straightened up the attacking lines.
    Was concerned when Rob Simmons went off, but our line out held. Will be sitting down today and watching that replay.
    I am trying to be realistic, and know we wont win the title, but I am seeing a good turnaround, and an organisation and a player group taking ownership.
    Go the Reds

  • Richard

    Total credit to the Reds who in the 1st half played like a side full of spirit and conviction – and with a home crowd behind them! How the Highlanders though expect to win awkward away games by offering up 25 missed tackles in that 1st half, some very easy run metres and butchering a certain try with poor hands is beyond me. A good reminder that in this competition, your whole squad has to front – every week!!

  • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

    As I was watching the thought of Cheika’s Camp and it’s effect on players entered my mind. Then low and behold Clarkey and someone else commented on it too, and I thought ‘maybe I’m onto something here’.
    Post match the question was asked on that very subject and it seemed that all Cheiks said was ‘believe in your systems and keep it simple’.
    Maybe it was the camp, maybe it was being away from Brisbane, maybe it was gems from Cheiks…..who knows? What I do know is that I’m damn happy for those unruly rough heads across across the Tweed though. You blokes are amazing fans. And that is the last compliment this Tahs fan is sending North.

    • RobC

      Maybe because it takes a few weeks to start removing RG’s coaching on the players.

      imo the Reds players are generally good enough for the finals.

  • Nutta

    Random observations from a random guy:

    LFG. Wow. I know it’s been said, but the quality of on-ballers in Oz arm is astounding.

    Greg Holmes is invaluable

    K.Hunt played his best game of rugby yet. By a long shot. His aggression in contact and his confidence with distributing was great to watch

    However once again it was shown you can’t defend a lead for 40min. Esp in Super rugby you must continue to attack.

  • RobC

    Thanks Reg. The 2H was a coaching fubar. Reds kept the starters too long, for the sake of continuity:
    – You can see how the Landers were running circles
    – Powerless scrums was a telltale
    – Cam closeups show they were drained before 55′

    The co-coaches laptops should have been ringing alarm bells by 55′

    They only brought in the fresh troops when the Reds were already on the ropes. TOO LATE!

    btw CFS. He should have been dropped after round 2

    • Graeme

      TBH: CFS should have been dropped 3 years ago. He’s less bad now than he was then. But that doesn’t say a lot.

      • RobC

        Thought he showed promise then as a 19yo when be debuted for WBs.

        As a winger, no:
        – I think he’s neither the 108kg Julian Savea / Nebuli type.

        – Nor the kicking / sprinting. As catcher, mixed results.
        – Not quick off the mark, if I recall correct.

        He’s a solid NRC level, killer QPR centre.

        Could work at SR if Samu K plays 12, only if Ant Fingers and K doesnt play centres.

        More effective and sustainable to select a specialist right winger

  • Graeme

    I only saw from the 56th minute onwards, but at that point they were out on their feet. Even with a 15 point advantage the commentators were considering the Reds losing a near certainty. And they were almost right. It’s too late in the season to do anything about fitness, but it was an amazing effort to hold on. I’m back on the Reds bandwagon!


The original prop in a prop's body, but thankfully I have the rugby mind of a prop as well.

More in Rugby

  • The Shute Shield’s run home

    Even though it wasn’t the tv game, Gordon hosting Uni was the match of the round, no...

  • Monday’s Rugby News

    Monday’s Rugby News looks at Dave Rennie’s tight-lipped approach to the Wallabies squads, a recap of clubland,...

  • Thinking outside the Boks

    This ongoing pandemic has wreaked havoc with sport all over the world, and South Africa has been...

  • Friday’s Rugby News

    Friday’s Rugby News sees The Rugby Championship Schedule Released, Sad Kiwis,  The Weekend Ahead in Club Land and English Rugby...