Reds tackle tackle tackle the Rebels out of the game - Green and Gold Rugby
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Reds tackle tackle tackle the Rebels out of the game

Reds tackle tackle tackle the Rebels out of the game

As the rain swept across Suncorp Stadium during, the PSTD of Super Rugby fans would have been clicking into overdrive.  The last time these two sides met was on another wet windy day, this time at Brookvale Oval in Sydney, for one of the more forgettable clashes of this season. The result was an underwhelming extra time draw and both teams withdrew into a ‘don’t lose mentality’ rather than seek the win.

A little over a month later and the competition has risen beyond that grim encounter and each team entered the game looking to consolidate or eradicate the previous week’s performance. The Rebels were bloody impressive in serving the Brumbies their first loss of the season.  On the flip side the Reds were a mess in being spanked by the Tahs, and were out to break a two-match losing streak.

The match:

It was all the Rebels early on as the Reds failed to clear from their own line on the back of some high-pressure Melbourne defence.  Some sharp attack was foiled when the visitors gave away and the penalty and the pressure valve was released.

The home fans breathed a sigh of relief when an early lineout actually worked..just.   Two more follow up successes would have given Brad Thorn a calming pause, particularly because of the late pull out of reserve hooker Alex Mafi, with Sean Farrell his replacement and a chance of Super Rugby debut.

The first attacking foray of the match came from Melbourne as another set piece backline play found Andrew Kellaway in space.    The Reds scrambled, but back to back penalties eventually led to first points through the boot of Matt Toomua. Rebels 3-0

The Reds secured the ball from the kick-off after a good chase by Filipo Daugunu.  Jordy Petaia and Fraser McReight both went close to the line, and repeated infringements by the defending team so the Reds opt for scrums rather than kicks or lineouts.

Some fairly one-dimensional attack wasn’t creating any challenge for the Rebels.  But a powerful scrum looked to.  With the Reds pack on the charge for what looked like a rare pushover try, Harry Wilson picked up and passed to Tate McDermott who looked for Petaia on the wing. Petaia wasn’t there but had cross back towards the open for his scrumhalf to eventually find. From there the returning Queensland winger found just enough space to find the tryline.  Reds 7-3.

On the back of Andrew Deegan’s fine kicking performance last week, both teams reverted to a conservative kick and observe strategy.  Neither side grabbed the authority here early, with James O’Connor and Jock Campbell match the Rebels boot work.

After yet another kicking exchange the Reds finally found their man in Marika Koroibete.  The Rebels winger caught the bug and put a bomb that was fairly nothing nor the other.  Campbell claimed it, just from Tate McDermott, and found space immediately.  When he got the ball to Daugunu it was put the glasses down.  But we had to pick them up again when he was curtailed by the cover defense.  Daugunu was still able to get the ball away a support Brandon Paenga-Amosa to dive across the line for the Reds’ second try.  Reds 14-3

On the half hour mark the Rebels had their chance to get across for their first try with repeated phases on the Reds line.  The home team’s defense was relentless, however when the turnover came it was Queensland who were soon on the attack.  When Campbell received the ball effectively in his own in-goal he, rather brazenly, grubbered across for his winger Petaia.  It came off and Petaia was off again. A little chip kick induced a late tackle by Kellaway and the penalty was theirs.

The half ended with a comedy of, not so much errors as questionable options. The high being Taniela Tupou sumoing Pone Fa’amausili into touch after the Rebels prop tried to outpace him on the wing.  The low being an injury to Hunter Paisami that would see him not return after the break.


The second half started with fantastic intensity as the Rebels were on the attack early through back to back Reds penalties.  But the Reds repeatedly repelled them. The Rebels through everything and everyone at them. Pone. Naisirani. Koroibete.  And they couldn’t get through.  Liam Wright, Fraser McReight, Tate McDermott. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, O’Connor. Daugunu.  They all put in big defensive plays to turn the Rebels back.  Even young Josh Flook, on for Paisami, put in a big tackle on Campbell Magnay.

While the kicking duels continued, and caused some sighing amongst the fans, it was actually a fascinating aspect of the game.  Despite the presence of the Deegan, Hodge and Toomua (until he went off) the Reds probably finished on top more often than not.

While big Fa’amausili could not get around Tupou in the first half, he found himself in acres of space in the second when he ran onto a delightful short ball.  The run lifted the Rebels and from a penalty soon after, and they assumed their regular position of attacking the Reds line.  But they still couldn’t get through.  This time it was back to back McDermott tackles, both in the same play, that denied Frank Lomani and then Naisirani, that defied the visitors.

With all the talk of State of Origin during the week, the Reds paid their tribute to their leaguie colleagues with some tackling that would have made Trevor Gillmeister wince.

With yet another penalty going the Rebels way, the Melbournians finally set up a secure driving maul.  The Queensland defence could not keep them out. But Naisirani could.  The big number 8 was basically over the tryline and dropped the pill to give the Reds yet another reprieve.

The dominance of possession by the Rebels was built on the back of of five penalties in a row. The last of which had hooker Paenga-Amosa yellow carded as referee Damon Murphy followed through with his earlier warning.  It meant that Sean Farrell would come on for his Super Rugby debut for the closing stages of this physical encounter.

His impact was immediate as he anchored a rock-solid scrum that set up an all too rare attacking opportunity for his team.  McDermott came blind to O’Connor who took the ball to the line and put Stewart through a slim gap.  From there, the inside centre did it all himself as he broke three Rebels tacklers to run 35m to secure the match winning try.  A well deserved one at that. Reds 19-3

The Rebels did the damdest to finish with a try but, again, the Reds wall kept them out.  The significance of which, on the back of the Stewart try, is that it gave the Reds an important bonus point which places them in 2nd place on the Super Rugby ladder.

The Reds now must back up next Friday night when the Force host them on the Gold Coast while the Rebels have a much needed weekend off.

The Game Changer

There was no single game changer here.  No single action or play that changed the game. Perhaps it was the first try to Jordan Petaia, on the back of one of the toughest periods of his young life. But I’ll go for that relentless defensive effort about half an hour into the match that kept the Rebels at bay.


This could have gone to anyone in a Reds jersey.  Everyone played a key part.  I genuinely struggled to name someone who stood out so much.  Tupou, Stewart and Daugunu in particular did some special things in particular.  But I’ll go with Tate McDermott who made some plays in defense that belied his size.  His impact, back in the starting jersey, was clear for everyone to see.

Wallaby Watch

Each of the players mentioned about as MOTM candidates will double up here.  Add the names Jock Campbell and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto and the astute play of James O’Connor and competition for Wallaby jerseys are tight and welcome.

The Details

Score & Scorers

Reds 19:

Tries: Jordan Petaia 14’, Brandon Paenga-Amosa 28’, Hamish Stewart 75’
Conv.: James O’Connor 15’, 29’

Rebels 3:

Pen.: Matt Toomua 8’


Brandon Paenga-Amosa



  • UTG

    I suspect it was an easy review to write this week Reg.

    Said it after last week’s Tahs vs Reds match, the Reds weren’t actually that poor defensively, the Tahs just got absolutely everything right. Great effort tonight across the park from the Reds in defence. Tate McDermott was excellent playing well above his weight. Daugunu has to have near the best tackling technique in the country, does anyone else get under a player like he does? Tupou is on another level, worked so hard, must be the Wallaby 3.

    As a neutral, I really enjoyed the physicality of the match and some of the lighter moments like the budgie smuggler appearance and Tupou and Pone locking horns.

    • idiot savant

      Yeah the physicality was great and Rennie would have loved to see it. As regards last week, the Reds loose forwards were poorly positioned as Nick Bishop has pointed out. This week McReight made a huge difference.

    • LED

      Tupou is great to watch but he’s a hairs breadth away from a shoulder charge yellow card every tackle and clean out. Just look at the first hit on Pone. There was another ruck where any other ref probably would have carded him. He needs to back off the physicality ever so slightly and focus on not giving penalties. At Wallaby level he will be penalised consistently and I think we’ve seen that before from his international appearances. That can kill the team.

  • Frenchy

    First south hemisphere rugby match I’ve watched this year, but living in Europe we’ve been quite starved of rugby so it was high time I catch up. Really impressed with the physicality and level of play, and with some of the newer faces (Reds number 9 & 11!). Gotta feel for the Rebels, I had never seen a team dominate possession and territory so much, with so little results. The French tv commenters were absolutely baffled as well.

    It got me interested to watch the next round now, wondering how far the Reds can go. With this defence and mental fortitude, and ability to convert (that McDermott > O’Connor > Stewart movement for the try was super clean), I’m sure they’ll do well.

    • Steve

      You joined at a good time mate… we are seeing some really good improvement across the Aus tournament generally (some dire performances from Reds/Brumbies last week notwithstanding) after some pretty crap rugby in the early weeks.

      I believe that playing each other every week has actually improved the mentality across the teams… too often Aus teams playing each other they seem to ‘play not to lose’, but they seem to have gotten more comfortable now which can only be a good thing.

      Consistency is still a work in progress but I believe it’s on its way.

    • whatwouldberniedo

      Shocking read from Magnay to turn in on Oconner and offer Stewart the hole. an absolute coach killer. I’m not sure Magnay’s lateral movement is up to elite midfield standards. Tom English would have managed that situation far better. it was cracking effort from Hamish Stewart to ice the game from 30 out though.

      • Red Block

        Agreed, for five years Magnay has been a player with potential. Well at some point, that potential has to turn into a decent performance and we have seen nothing.

  • Jason

    Interestingly Wilson had a fairly quite game. But was quite clearly superior to Isi — who has been ordinary since coming back.

    • Huw Tindall

      Not sure about that. Naisarani got through so much much work. Would love to see his carries and metres stats. Would have got a meat pie too but for James O’Connor’s foot. Wilson’s quietest game of the year with no key impacts. Not bad but certainly didn’t stand out.

      • IIPA

        Thought Wilson was still pretty good. Excellent shots in defence. We didn’t see much of his trademark running or support play because Qld had no ball for about 50 minutes.

        Isi goes rogue too many times I feel looking for the hero play and yeah just not quite the impact at the moment. He seems bigger but maybe less athletic.

        • Fart

          Isi runs and tackles hard, but his lack of composure at the back of the scrum and maul cost the rebels the game. He had 3 attempts to get the try and blew all of them. That was the game changer. No patience

      • numpty

        Both played well imo. Wilson only played 60 and in that itme made 13 tackles – one forcing a knock on from pone, two dominating naisarani, and one shutting meakes down 10m behind the gain line. Wilson quiet in attack, but reds had very little ball as they kicked so much in the first half. All tries coming off single phases – two off scrums and one off a counter attack.

      • Jason

        So Isi had 14 runs for 34 meters. Contrast that with Matt Phillip 20 runs 80 meters, and Fa’amausili 8 runs for 45 meters. Naisarani is a one trick pony who’s one trick isn’t even that good — oh and he is very error prone, as well as consistently going into contact with poor body position (often leading to knock-ons or turnovers).

  • Gottsy

    The clash of Tupou and Fa’amausili was epic. Imagine them both playing for the wallabies- I’m just envisioning Sio and AAA starting and then these two putting the fear of god into tired defenders

    • Howard

      Too many tight heads and I’ve have Slipper over Sio

    • Huw Tindall

      Price of admission right there

    • Special wasn’t it? Liked it when Phil Kearns commented there were head tackles every where when the two looked like they were playing Sumo.
      Fully agree with your comments.

  • Steve

    Positive to see the starts of the Reds crowd, more enthusiasm than I’ve heard at an Aussie super game in a long time.

    • Huw Tindall

      Still about half of what they are allowed under social distancing? Nice though! I noticed in the English Premier Rugby which started this weekend to empty stadiums they had fake crowd noise and I was pleasantly surprised how it added to the atmosphere. Worth it for games like Force v Rebels at CBUS where you are going to struggle to find any Victorians or West Aussies to get to the game.

      • I am looking forward to seeing The Force play at home in Perth next year (hopefully). Prediction they will field a bigger, better side and draw bigger crowds than anyone initially.

    • Remember, when the Reds won the Super Title, they were drawing 30,000 to a home game. There is a big Rugby Union base in Brisbane just as League of course. The more the Reds or Broncos win, the bigger the crowd will get.

  • whatwouldberniedo

    the rebels without toomua really lost their shape. its a fascinating race for the wallaby 12 atm. Karmichael having two huge games in a row, Simone consistently very good and toomua being allowed to play where he is best suited (a lot on here think he is a 10 but I don’t see it. he sits too deep too often and doesn’t play at the line. when he does flatten up, he doesn’t look to play at the line and pretty much takes it into contact every time without looking to offload).

    my wallaby backline is changing every week but right now

    9 Nick White/Tate McD
    10 Oconner
    11 Koro
    12 Karmichael
    13 Jordan
    14 Ramm
    15 is impossible to pick but Maddocks didn’t hurt his chances on Friday

    • laurence king

      We have some very good young players coming through, bodes well. Strahan, the Force fullback impressed the other night with some intelligent play and good touches.

      • whatwouldberniedo

        Maddocks threw a couple of seriously good passes left to right at full tilt. its a real point of difference with the other contenders. if he could get rid of the flakier moments and bring some matt Bourke like precision to his game, he could be very good.

        • laurence king

          Campbell threw a beauty last night to Dangunu as well. In my opinion Banks is good in this area as well. My preference overall is for Banks, he’s a bit out of form at the moment but he has been the best for a few years

        • whatwouldberniedo

          I agree, Banks deserves the first bite at the cherry, but something about Maddocks is special. he needs to find more consistency though.

        • Gus

          I have to disagree about Banks. He rarely breaks a tackle or finds space when he runs, Maddocks and Campbell do these consistently. In recent games Banks has generally shovelled the ball on without committing a defender, his confidence seems gone. Performance in past years should not be a factor for Wobblies selection and for me he is nowhere near this year. Maddocks can be flaky for sure, but he may well overcome that with continued time at 15, Campbell just keeps surprising with his quality, maybe he is the bolter?

        • whatwouldberniedo

          I want to agree Gus as a completely one eyed reds supporter, but I keep thinking Campbell will be bombed to high heaven and his smaller frame will get bumped off the ball in the air or smashed once he lands. IMO he has been the best 15 in broken play by a fair margin this year. great vision and linking with his wings far better than the others. Maddocks and Ramm seem to have something brewing. I’d be pretty excited if I was a tahs fan.

        • Huw Tindall

          Thorn was on the Jock Campbell train earlier in the season and commented about how he does break/slip tackles with ease. He’s got the quality. Wallabies 15 though I’m still going for DHP if he is fit. Too early to chuck these young guys in. Need to be absolutely solid under the high ball and know the position inside and out. The young guys probably all have more upside potential than DHP but give them another year or so. Of the back 3 I’m most excited about Ramm TBH. Has a huge boot, decent size, pace, skills for days, breaks/slips tackles, already good positioning and defense is fine. He could be the next Joe Roff, just better!

    • idiot savant

      Cant agree on Toomua. Yes he is a better 12 than 10 but no 10 in Australia varies his depth better. He knows when to flatten up as he showed so well against the Tahs and is a triple threat at the line. Last week it was Toomua flattening up at 12 and passing that was key to stressing the Brumbies defence. As you point out when he went off last night the Rebels lost attacking shape. I think Lance is the next best at flattening up but he’s error prone and has lost pace. JOC is very haphazard which makes him a threat but the Reds system is different. JOC often inhabits the pocket for second line play while Stewart flattens up and the half back is left with the choice of who to hit. Lolesio and Harrison are both deep most of the time at this stage of their careers but I expect both will learn the art of flattening up when needed.

      I liked the way Toomua was progressing at 10 before Wessels moved him. It will be fascinating to see who Rennie picks. I figure there is a transition period of 2 years to manage where the old guard starts and gradually gives way to the next gen. I also like Hunt at 12 but only for the first few tests this year against the ABs. You’re right 15 is wide open and wonder how JOC would go there with Toomua at 10 again for the first few tests. Harrison and Maddocks to come off the bench. Id have Wright over Ramm at this stage but Ramm has plenty of time. He will be special.

  • numpty

    Great game and loved the contrast to their first hitout Reg – shows how much both teams and the comp have developed. Mcreight and Wright huge at the breakdown. Tate needs to start for his D organisation alone. Stewart, Campbell and JOC all with quality decision making all night. Daugunu very good defensively. LSL physical in D. BPA running some very nice support lines in attack. He has pinched a few tries like that now by being there for the last pass. Good stuff for a big man.

  • idiot savant

    What surprised me most was Wessell’s game plan. The Sunwolves and the Waratahs have shown how to beat Thorn’s Reds. The premise is that the Reds forwards are big and slow and if you really throw the ball around you will tire them out and stretch them at the edges. The Tahs scored 8 tries against the Reds last year in one game playing this way and put on 45 points last week. The Sunwolves put on over 60 points against the Reds in Tokyo playing against the Reds huge pack and Thorn’s wet dream 250kg centre combination of Kerevi and CFS. Last week the strategy worked doubly well because of where Thorn stations his loose forwards as Nick Bishop has pointed out. Yet Wessells game plan was to run at them not around them and to do it in the middle of the park. Crazy when you think of the size of the Reds pack. Perhaps Wessells was worried about the wet conditions but the tactic was the wrong one.

    The Rebels really missed Toomua when he went off. They were directionless and they missed his ability at the line. On the other side of the coin McReight made a huge difference to the Reds defence with 22 tackles in 70 minutes. If the Reds hadn’t given away as many penalties and had a better line out they would have won that game easily. The Reds continue to hand their opposition a head start.

    • Huw Tindall

      Bang on re the game plan. Made similar comments during the match over on Twitter. You beat the Reds defense by going around them, not through them. They are second to none defending the narrow channels. Losing Toomua was a big one as it made going wide even harder. Meakes distribution game isn’t good enough and without Toomua the rest of the backline is a bit samey with big blokes running lines rather than creating.

  • Alister Smith

    Was there much to O’Connor’s shoulder injury. If so it might hurt the Reds. He is enormous for them at the moment in terms of pulling the right strings. The forward battle was immense at times. I loved watching Isi vs Wilson, a position that we haven’t had a lot of depth in for a while. Wilson does not lack courage.

  • Cracking game last night. All The REDS played like a team possessed. More games like that and the crowds will return, especially in Brisbane. The Rebels didn’t play poorly, and, in fact, dominated the second half. Pretty much any other opposition team would have cracked BUT not The Reds. Well done!

  • Nutta

    Congratulations Red Men. Massive. Timeless. Eternal. A match for folklore. It actually made an old cynic like me a little emotional.

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