Great White Sharks attack in Queensland - Green and Gold Rugby
Queensland Reds

Great White Sharks attack in Queensland

Great White Sharks attack in Queensland

The Reds were under immense pressure as they entered their Round 5 clash against the Sharks.  Firstly they needed to back-up after their thrashing against the Sunwolves last weekend and to prove they were more than flat track bullies.  Second, they needed to follow the Aussie path of success this weekend on the back of Rebels and Waratahs upset victories.  Finally they had to follow in the footsteps of their red-hot Women’s team who smashed the visiting Rebels 104-3 in the curtain raiser.

For the Sharks, they were on their way home from a tour that saw them drop just the one game, to the Hurricanes in Round 3, while getting up over the Highlanders and the Rebels.  As it stands, it’s a bloody good trip. If they were to leave with three wins, however, it would be bloody sensational.

First Half

The Reds were able to assert their muscle early when they got the first scrum penalty on the Sharks feed allowing Jock Campbell to step and have an early shot at goal. While the scrum penalty wasn’t a surprise, the successful penalty shot was given recent form. Reds 3-0

It was an early blow for the Sharks but not as big a blow when their returning World Champion, and skipper, Lukhanyo Am was injured early.  The injury came from a low high tackle by his opposite number, Hunter Paisami. The tackle was high because Paisami’s shoulder made contact with his head, but it was low because Am was falling and Paisami really couldn’t have been in a lower position. Anyway, Am was soon back on his feet and the Sharks evened the scores with the shot at goal. 3 all.

The Sharks, who seemed determined to counter the hard running Reds lines by really pushing the advantage line, were giving away penalties but the Reds couldn’t get their lineout or rolling maul working and scoring opportunities were wasted.

While the Reds attacking lineout was not performing up one end, the defensive version was put under pressure soon enough too. A penalty at the breakdown gave the Sharks decent position from about 20m out. A clean lineout and a perfectly formed maul saw the visitors drive the Reds backwards easily with hooker Kerron van Vuuren getting the points.  Sharks 8-3

The Reds were able to bounce back immediately following a fumble of the kick-off by the Sharks.  The scrum gave Paisami his first set piece run opportunity of the game and he did just enough to get across the gain line and spur some quick phase ball.  When the ball was spread it looked like Campbell had erred in coming back inside, but a loop around by James O’Connor enabled him to find Henry Speight with space outside to score his second try for his adopted club this season. 8 all.

The lineout still wasn’t functioning for the Reds and with the kicking off Campbell a little iffy, why wouldn’t the Sharks push the law book a little?  They survived one attacking lineout, but a scrum penalty soon after gave the Campbell a much easier shot to put his team back in the lead Reds 11-8

The Reds malfunctioning lineout was a real worry for the home team as they repeatedly misfired and denied themselves legitimate point scoring attacking opportunities.  The Sharks were giving them plenty of opportunities to improve on this aspect of the game, but four turnovers at the lineout was proof of its malfunction.

The fast moving Shark defence was also doing its best to deny the Reds attack any space or time.  It was only when O’Connor and Campbell were able to get the ball wide, albeit on the bounce, to Speight was space able to be found.  A smart grubber forward kept the ball in play and a the Sharks cover through winger Madosh Tambwe was forced in goal giving the Reds a 5m scrum with the half time siren imminent.

Their only dependable set piece play provided a platform for a quick piece of interchange between Hamish Stewart and O’Connor that saw the veteran Wallaby over under the posts. Unfortunately the tap on pass by Stewart was deemed to have gone forward and the try disallowed.

The Reds would go to the break clinging to a 3 point lead but probably disappointed they weren’t able to convert more opportunities from a ropey lineout.

James O'Connor passes

James O’Connor passes

Second Half

Did I mention the poor Reds lineout in the first half?

It wasn’t the lineout that let the Reds down early in the second half as the Sharks found space down the left side of a wide blind, from a scrum 40m out.  Some quick ball kept the momentum flowing and the Reds just couldn’t hold on.  Flanker Dylan Richardson was the one to get the ball over the tryline with Curwin Bosch kicked the conversion Sharks 15-11

Of  bigger blow for the Reds was Harry Wilson coming off for a HIA, after a tackle went wrong, soon followed by James O’Connor. Last year’s Wallaby Under 20s Fraser McReight and Isaac Lucas were the replacements.

Angus Scott-Young ran on top a nice Tate McDermott ball and was able to find Hamish Stewart in support on the inside.  With support in and out, it looked like a try for all money. Unfortunately Stewart’s awkward one handed off-load was loose and Campbell toed it forward.  The Sharks cleaned up through fullback Aphelele Fassi, however he was tackled over the line to give the Reds another attacking scrum, 5m out.

The try came and it came through scrumhalf Tate McDermott. McDermott has his powerful pack to thank as they again dominated the scrum and the 9 was ready to take the free kick quickly and charged straight through the Sharks to score.  Reds 16-15

Bosch bashed one over from 48m out to put the visitors back in front. Sharks 18-16

He tried to do it again, soon after following a scrum penalty when replacement Harry Hoopert failed to keep his feet.  It was a cracking kick with a greater angle and the lead was extended. Sharks 21-16

Another Sharks penalty from a scrum seemed to relieve the pressure with the Reds about 20m out from the line. But as the scrum broke up, so did a scuffle and the replayed apparently showed replacement hooker Craig Burden pushing his elbow into Alex Mafi’s throat. The penalty was reversed and from the resultant lineout Taniela Tupou burrowed over for a try.

Unfortunately the replay showed be probably did a little too much burrowing and was penalised for playing the ball in the ground, and the try disallowed.

The Reds still had the territory but their attack wasn’t overly convincing.  The rucks were messy and the Sharks were picking attackers off fairly easily. The pressure was released when Am snaffled a flat ball by his opposite number, Paisami, to run 70 odd metres and score a crucial try.  Sharks 28-16

That try was probably enough to shut the gate, but if it wasn’t then it was nailed shut soon after. The ruck work was again loose again and Richardson snaffled a turnover and offloaded to his No 8, Sikumbo Notshe who broke a number of tackles before the ball found Tambwe in space to race away and score.  Sharks 33-16

The Reds scored from a rolling maul through Ed Craig in the 88th (or so) minute on a back of a string of five penalties in a row in what was one of the more farcical scenes of this weekend’s round of rugby. More farcically Campbell booted it from the sideline!

As stated previously the 33-23 win makes it a sensational tour for the Sharks and they can head home with heads held high.  They now get to host the Jaguares next Sunday morning while the Reds will need a massive lift as they take on the Crusaders in Christchurch on Friday.

Lukhanyo Am takes an intercept to score

Lukhanyo Am takes an intercept to score

The Game Changer
It could have been when O’Connor and McDermott came off. It could have been Bosch’s big penalties or Am’s intercept.  But it was probably the Tupou no-try that happened just minutes before the Am try.  It was a 10-14 point turnaround.


Curwin Bosch controlled play well and his two monster penalty kicks were crucial. I thought the work of Dylan Richardson was exceptional as well while lock Ruben van Heerden was a big reason why the Reds struggled with their lineout.  Give it to one of them.

Wallaby Watch

The Wallaby coaching team won’t be inking anyone’s name on the team sheet after that game.  Stewart was very solid, but that loose one handed pass was black mark.  The backrow worked hard by the rucks were a mess. The scrum worked well still.

The Details

Score & Scorers

Reds:  23
Tries: Henry Speight (18), Tate McDermott (51), Ed Craig (88)
Conversions: Jock Campbell (89)
Penalties:  Jock Campbell (3, 28)

Sharks:  33
Tries: Kerron van Vuuren (20), Dylan Richardson (45), Lukhanyo Am (71), Madosh Tambwe (75)
Conversions: Curwin Bosch (47, 72)
Penalties: Curwin Bosch (5, 46, 49)

Crowd: 13,323

Match Photos:

  • Steve

    Good game by the Reds but they just didn’t have enough muscle to get the job done.

    The Sharks’ physicality at the breakdown and set piece eventually told and brought too much pressure.

    For all the wraps on Paisami, Am really schooled him today – He is still a young man and will learn.

    I do wonder if the Wallabies forward pack will be able to keep up this year with the Boks in particular – I don’t want to see another year of the Wallabies getting bullied so I hope the new coaching team is up to the job.

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      Loss of Arnold is huge, but I see no reason why the Brumbies‘ pack augmented by a few others from the other teams cannot stay with the Boks and All Blacks. The All Blacks might actually have the weaker forward pack, maybe.

      • nmpcart

        Weren’t the Brumbies pack destroyed by the Reds pack in Canberra when they played? I seem to recall being surprised given the Brumbies front row at how badly they went.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          No, not really. The Reds probably had the better of the scrums, but the Brumbies won 2-3 penalties also. Worth noting that the Brumbies lost both of their starting locks (where a lot of a scrum’s power comes from) from last year and I think they were surprised by how well the Reds went and even last night the Reds won a reasonable number of scrum penalties. But the Brumbies utterly dominated the Reds at the breakdown and also did better at the line out from memory.

          Take the Brumbies pack, add Rodda, Philip, Hooper and probably Naisarani and it is a very good forward pack. Certainly one that won’t be annihilated up front.

          Only a fool would think we will beat the Boks up up front. But international packs rarely ‘dominate’ other packs in every facet. Take last year, we generally won our own scrums, our own line outs and won most of our attacking rucks. We didn’t really lose any matches through the forwards being outplayed. I suspect against the Boks we will generally win our own scrums, lose their scrums and win 80%+ of our own line out balls. Just need to make sure we compete well at the breakdown and use the ball we win effectively.

        • Red Block

          As I recall Tupou destroyed Sio, so much so that Slipper had to come on at half time to try and fix the scrum.

  • sambo6

    So…the reds are 1 from 5….but have been in the lead at halftime in every match this season.

    It doesn’t look to me like a conditioning issue.

    Looks to me like shit just starts to fall apart as soon as some of the replacements come on.

    Does this mean that the finishers aren’t high enough quality? I don’t think so.

    It seems to me to be more to do with the fact that the combinations aren’t there, so perhaps is more reflective of the fact that the coaching systems are not sufficiently robust enough to ensure seamless changes in personnel on the fly. Not saying that’s an easy thing to achieve, but it’s a game of 23 versus 23 these days, and while things like the lineout weren’t working from the start of the match, the common problem amongst all games this season has been the lack of poise (in attack and defence) in the second half….

    Over to you team thorn….

    • Steve

      There was definitely an element of the replacements not being good enough sambo (Hoopert in particular was a huge liability), but overall I think it was a strength and aggressiveness issue personally.

      You often see with weaker teams that they can live with stronger teams at the breakdown for a period of time, but tire more quickly and the pressure eventually tells. I think they were just bullied by a bigger and stronger team in the end

  • Mortahs Incoming – custardtaht

    I thought the Reds would get the biscuits, I thought wrong.

    We are half way through the 3rd season of the rebuild, and the Reds don’t really look all that different to year 1, and they don’t look even close to being good enough to make the playoffs.

    I think Thorn needs to go at the end of the season, and then spend time developing his coaching skills.

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      Only 1/3 of the way through. But I agree with the sentiment, Thorn is yet to show he can coach.

    • While I don’t think losing to the Sharks is a cause to throw the baby out with the bathwater, overall I agree with your sentiment.

      Thorn is showing signs he can coach but he’s not the whole package that you want in a franchise head coach as far as I’m concerned. Whether there’s just a toxic atmosphere in general at the Reds – reading some of the comments from other people who post here, that’s certainly possible – or he’s personally not capable wherever he goes I’m not sure. But regardless of that, unless he turns it around and basically wins out for the rest of the season so the Reds get into the knockout stages, his time is up.

      Shame, because I would have liked to see him succeed but three seasons is long enough.

  • Happyman

    Good work Reg I was a bottle of red in at the time.

    Upon consideration it feels like the Reds are good but don’t have the capacity or composure to turn things around when it goes to custard.

    After the Tupou no try they just started to chase it rather than go back to the base game plan. Good teams stay in the fight a prime example is the highlanders they stay in the fight and have won a game against the Brumbies they should have lost and only just lost to a Rebels team after being second best all day. The reds just don’t have that in them at the moment.

  • Keith Butler

    Bit of a disappointment as I thought the Reds might just shade it. Maybe just me but it looked like Tupou was very quiet.

    • Onside

      Yes he looked quiet but the Reds have got to find away of making the most of his strengths esp the running game.
      More like what England do with Kyler Sinkler.
      Let him loose in the open against one on one tacklers.

      • Keith Butler

        Nice comparison.

  • Tim

    Reds just looked like they didn’t want to win the game. The scrums was crap line out awful, defense terrible compared to last week. Watching game they werent running hard or tackling hard. Not to sure what was going on TBH.

  • Gipetto

    Daugunu should have come on earlier, Hegarty was needed at #10 after O’Connor was injured- he should have been on the bench (great playmaker/ hands/ reader of the game and tactical kicker); The Reds play-makers will not give Tupou the ball. Thorn’s days are numbered

  • Nutta

    I’m disappointed a Thorn side had such a bad day on lineouts. For such a Meat & Potatoes sort of coach & guy that’s just head-scratching.

    Harry Hoopert copped a few lessons. It will lead to a few weeks of intensive micro-study and tutelage I’m sure. Here’s hoping he will benefit from it.

    Parmie’s card was fair by the current interpretations of the laws of the game. However for Parmie to be set to tackle so low his chin damn near left furrow-marks in the surface of the ground and still get a yellow for a high tackle means something is not right in the guidelines in the first place.

    Curly Bosch was the difference I thought and I agree on the lost opportunity of the Tupou try. The match was there for the Reds to take… but they just didn’t…

    By God I would have liked a 3-win weekend and I still dream for a 4-win weekend. Open question: have we (Aussie) had a 4-win weekend since we had 4-teams in Super? That said, did we ever pull a 5-win weekend (so + Forcies) or was that impossible in the draw?

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