Reds Scrape Home in a Card-fest! - Green and Gold Rugby
Queensland Reds

Reds Scrape Home in a Card-fest!

Reds Scrape Home in a Card-fest!

I was thinking that a hoodoo busting win in Durban, followed by a bye was the perfect preparation for the St George Queensland Reds coming into this season defining match against the Sunwolves.  As they’ve shown a few times this season though, it’s the one’s they should win that seem to trouble the Reds the most.

As I watched the pregame coverage on Fox Sports I had an uneasy feeling with all of the finals talk for the Reds.  Yes, the results last week while the Reds were on a bye really opened a door and put their fate back in their hands but still, the Reds are still second from the bottom of the Australian conference and more losses than wins.

Hamish Stewart makes a break

Hamish Stewart makes a break

The First Half 

The Sunwolves opened their account early with a penalty that might’ve had the Japanese audience a bit perplexed.  Referee “Ozzie” Angus Gardner penalising Taniela Tupou for a “second crack”.  Parker slotting the kick to make it 0-3.  The Reds almost hit back immediately through young gun Jock Campbell who was stopped agonisingly close to the try after a sharp run from McDermott.

The Reds were looking a little rusty from their break resulting in some poor passing.  Their communication in attack lacking a little also. The Sunwolves on the other hand were making the most of their ball and some sharp passing and interplay found them in the Reds red zone again when an easy penalty for offside gave Parker the chance to slot another 3.  0-6

A good restart instantly put the Sunwolves under pressure and the Reds won the ball.  Some quick ball had the defense back pedaling before conceding a penalty which Bryce Hegarty kicked to make it 3-6.

A poor exit from the Sunwolves restart had the Reds on their 22 defending a lineout.  The Sunwolves won the lineout and went to put it through the hands when the evergreen Reds backrower, Higginbotham snatched an intercept and ran half the length of the field before being dragged down.  Hegarty ran the perfect support line to recieve a pop pass and run the last 25m for the try.  His conversion attempt though, hit the upright and it was 8-6.

The Sunwolves missed a golden opportunity when Masirewa dropped the ball cold with only the tryline in front but I’m not sure that it wouldn’t have been called back anyway for what looked to be an obstruction that created the hole for Masirewa to run through.  It mattered not though as minutes later the Reds were caught without a fullback back and Parker rolled a perfect grubber through to put Gerhard Van Der Heever over in the corner.  Parker kicked the conversion from the sideline and it was 8-13.

Not wanting to wreck the real see-saw contest, the Reds looked to hit back.  Some excellent footwork from Hamish Stewart got the Reds on the front foot and in space.  Campbell continued his impressive start, almost putting his Captain Kerevi over in the corner.  Some cynical play from the retreating Sunwolves though saw prop Mikami with a yellow card.  The Reds opted for a scrum and nearly drove it over but fell short.  After some sustained pressure the Sunwolves were lucky not to lose another to the bin but then pulled out a huge scrum to win a penalty on the Reds feed and exit their half and get out of gaol.  Still 8-13.

The next 10 minutes the game settled a little and both teams seemingly happy to play field position.  Smart from the Sunwolves but with a man up, I was expecting the Reds to try and exploit their advantage but they didn’t and failed to score a single point while the Sunwolves prop was in the bin.  As soon as the Sunwolves were back to 15 players again the Reds started running the ball again.  Hot on attack, Masirewa was penalised for hands in the ruck and was shown a yellow card.  The Reds turned down the gift 3 points and instead opted for the scrum but immediately gave away a free kick. With 65% possession and a one man advantage for almost half of the first half they desperately needed points to try and regain the lead but with a late penalty, they kicked for the corner and mauled well before turning it over and that was oranges.  Reds 8, Sunwolves 13.

Bryce Hegarty scores for the Queensland Reds

Bryce Hegarty scores for the Queensland Reds

The Second Half 

The Reds were first to score in the second half after a trademark centrefield run from Kerevi almost put Campbell over in the corner.  Some pick and go’s on the Sunwolves line were initially repelled until the Tongan Thor grabbed the ball and stormed across the line.  Hegarty converted the try to make it 15-13.

The lead wouldn’t last long as the Reds gave away a penalty about 40m out from their own line and Parker didn’t miss to take the lead back. 15-16.

The Reds were looking to run the ball a bit more in the second half and on a break out run up the right touchline, Jock Campbell was caught high by Semi Masirewa.  Angus Gardener was slow to call advantage but looked to get either an Assistant Referee or TMO intervention because as soon as the play broke down he called time off and signaled the TMO.  The three replays all showed a high tackle, somewhere around the neck of Campbell.  It was probably 50/50 whether it was a yellow card or just penalty but the referee thought is worthy of a card and as it was Masirewa’s second yellow card for the night, it was upgraded to a red.  The Sunwolves would play out the remainder of the game with 14 men.

The Reds kicked for touch and after the ensuing lineout kept in in tight for a few phases then a deft cross field kick from Hegarty found Naivalu in acres of space to score the easiest try he’ll ever score.  Hegarty added the extras to make it 22-16.

All the play in the first 10 minutes of the second half was in the Sunwolves half and the Reds had most of the ball but were struggling to cross the line.  A good turnover penalty from Liam Wright right in front of the posts gave Hegarty an easy kick to take the lead out to 25-16.

After the kick off the Reds opted to keep the ball in hand and run it out of their half.  A sloppy clean out from JP Smith who came straight in from the side gave the Sunwolves a penalty right in front and 3 points. 25-19.

This is where is started getting a little strange.  The Reds with a one man advantage were struggling to score points.  In the first 20 minutes of the second half, the Reds had only made 8 tackles to the Sunwolves 43.  All the stats were going the Reds way yet they were struggling to score points.  Brendan Paenga-Amosa came on for Alex Mafi and immediately drove himself over the tryline but it was correctly ruled a no try as he was initially tackled short of the line.  Trailing by only 6, this seemed to give the visitors a rise.

In the next minute after a kick for field position Hamish Stewart found himself in two minds and threw a pass straight to Van der Heever who just had to stroll over the line to score under the sticks.  Parker was never going to miss and the Sunwolves were in the lead with 13 minutes to go. 25-26.

Looking at the the faces of the Reds faces I expected to see some panic creeping in, but I couldn’t.  Kerevi and Rodda looked composed as they tried to rally the home team.  A good run from Tupou put the Reds a couple of meters out but an excellent turnover saved the Sunwolves briefly.  The exit kick though was loose and immediately put them under pressure on the other side of the field and after conceding yet another penalty, the referee went to his pocket again and dished out his fourth yellow card to the Sunwolves so they would play the last 10 minutes with 13 men.

The Reds kicked to the corner and drove the lineout about 15 metres forward but about 25 metres across to score under the posts.  The conversion making it 32-26.

With 5 minutes left on the clock the Reds had sustained a number of phases inside thier own 22, turned the ball over and cleared.  The quick throw from the Sunwolves was crooked and when play stopped the TMO intervened with alleged foul play.  The replay went back to the Reds 22 and Harry Hockings, after being cleaned out had his foot held as he was trying to rejoin the defensive line.  He took offense to the hold and kicked out with his boot, contacting the Rahboni Vosayaco of the Sunwolves in the head.  The TMO and referee agreed that Vosayaco should be yellow carded for the cynical play and Hockings should be Red carded for the foul play.  It would be 14 v 12 for the last 5 minutes, the Reds up by 6 and a penalty to the Sunwolves right in front.

The Sunwolves kicked for the corner and threw everything they had at the Reds line but a loose carry turned the ball over to the Reds.  They didnt’ exit well though and the Sunwolves had the ball back in the Reds 22 attacking, trying desperately to grab the most unlikely win.  Phase after phase, the Sunwolves came at the Reds until Ruan Smith pounced on the ball in a ruck and turning the ball over and winning a penalty.  The Reds kicked for the corner, won the lineout, put the ball into touch and the Sunwolves deck of cards finally came crashing down.  Reds win, 32 to 26.

The Game Changer

There were so many.  This game should’ve been an entirely one sided affair but was on a knife edge for most of the second half.  I’d say the most pivotal though would have to be the red card to Masirewa.  Reds went from hoping to scrape out a win to contemplating a bonus point victory in that moment.  If the Sunwolves had’ve managed to win that though the game changer would’ve been Hamish Stewart’s pass to Van der Heever for the try to bring them back within one score.


I found this hard to pick because there were a few players with some really good stand out moments, but most of them also had a few moments that they’d rather forget.  So for that reason, I went with our young general, Tate McDermott.  He did everything you want from your scrum half and more and really didn’t put a foot wrong all night.

Wallaby Watch

There’s the obvious players here that keep getting mentioned.  McDermott and Mafi to name a couple.  I really wanted to put Hamish Stewart in here though tonight.  He had some great runs and really opened up the defence sliding into the attack from fullback.  A couple of poor plays though shows he still has more to learn.  This isn’t a criticism, it’s a product of his age.  He will get there but not yet.  So I’m going left field for my Wallaby Watch and giving a nod to Scott Higginbotham for a vintage performance from the number 8.  Stranger things have happened!

Scott Higginbotham is run down after taking an intercept

Scott Higginbotham is run down after taking an intercept

The Details

Score & Scorers

Reds 32
Tries: Hegarty ’14, Tupou ’42, Naivalu ’50, Paenga-Amosa ’71
Conversions: Hegarty  ’43, ’51, ’72
Penalties: Hegarty ’12, ’58,

Yellow Cards: nil
Red Cards: Hockings ’75


Crowd:  8600

Sunwolves 26
Tries: Van der Heever ’20, ’66
Conversions: Parker ’21, ’67
Penalties:  Parker ‘2, ‘9, ’46, ’60

Yellow Cards: Mikami ’24, Masirewa ’35 & ’48, Tamura ’69, Vosayaco ’75
Red Cards: Masirewa ’48

  • Jason

    I can not for the life of me understand Cheika’s pure unadulterated disdain for Higgers; he’s almost custom made to play along side Pocock and Hooper, he was the form No8 last year, he’s got that ‘experience’ that Cheika appears to value above all else. Yet he doesn’t even get a squad call up…

    As for Stewart he had a brilliant game, a few errors (well one really bad one) but otherwise his kicking was very good (still not as good as he can be / as he was in U20’s and NRC, but very good).

    But the player I’d like more people to take note of is Hegarty, he’d be a really nice 23 can genuinly play 10, 11, 12, 14 and 15, and is an elite goal kicker (okay I’m embellishing because the Reds don’t kick’em unless they’re dead easy). Not sure Hegarty is in my best 23 but he’d easily be in my 30 odd.

    • Adrian

      Hegarty is in my 31, my 23 and my 15.

      He was my MOM

      I’m a NSW supporter BTW

      • Huw Tindall

        Interesting. I was doing some rugby tweeting and chucked Hegarty’s name in there as someone who doesn’t get enough press. I really hope RA and the Reds invest in him as he has potential written all over him.

        Not sure I’d put him as MOM this game but he was one as Kerevi is a one man team at times.

        I could see Hegarty in your 31 as a utility but where is he in your 23 and 15.

        • Bernie Chan

          Didn’t get to watch much of the game due to family football, but read some blogs as the game went and everyone seemed to think Gardner was whistle happy…The second yellow to Masirewa was a bit stiff, and to scrape home against 13 players is nothing to crow about. I guess we bank the points and move on…
          Not sure he’s (Hegarty) staying in Oz after this season…
          The Higgers situation seems a bit similar to the Fardy one…Cheika seems to have ‘marked-his-card’ with a “do-not-select”…
          BB’s back-5 forwards is more balanced than any we’ve see for some time in gold…even if Cheika still prefers Hooper over Pocock at #7 (start with Pocock and finish with Hooper?) the others balance out the pack better.

        • Adrian

          I’d try him at 5/8 in first RC game which is v Argentina. I’d have Kerevi at 12.
          Unless he flops I’d then take him to WC
          He is more stable than both Foley and Genia.
          It’s funny, there is lots of talk on NZ taking 3 number 10s to WC.
          I think we should too.

        • Huw Tindall

          Bold move but I guess Hegarty could be included as he offers utility value unlike QC and Foley.

        • Adrian

          Yes, he does provide a bit more utility.
          Interestingly, a bit of discussion elsewhere about NZ having a 3rd 5/8 in WC

        • Ed

          It is based on the AB’s experience in 2011 so there is no surprise about this discussion. In 2015, they picked Carter, Barrett and Slade as 5/8s.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I like Bryce but am not convinced. Hegarty has perhaps the best attacking player in super rugby outside him in Kerevi, but the Reds’ attack is still shit.

          I think that the flyhalf needs to take a lot of the responsibility for that.

      • Rick Harrison


      • Jason

        Yeah, I’m not 100% sold on him as a test flyhalf, but he’s capable, good enough to take into a tournament/game as your backup flyhalf, IMO he’s playing no worse than Foley, except kicking 80 odd percent.

    • ballymoreburning

      the higgers thing is weird isn’t it? I’d love to see poccock, higgers, jones as the back row.
      a balance of work rate, impact, and skill. together with Arnold and Rodda, thats a world class attacking and defensive line out, and pretty much the best 4 maul defenders as well. it allows pocock to have more impact because he’s not the only hard body at the breakdown as opposed to hooper and hannigan.

      • Jason

        Yeah, I can’t figure it out. Sure Higgers hasn’t been ‘demanding selection’ but fuck he’s better than all the crap we’ve been playing in the back row — Ned Hanigan somehow has 20 odd caps (and not a miserly 20 caps where you play 5 off the bench for 10 of ‘em but most of them 60+ min games! Why the fuck wouldn’t you play Higgers in that instance.

    • AllyOz

      He ran over Cheika’s cat after training… or something like that

    • Tim

      With Stewart and Hegarty having almost 15-14 the whole match didn’t do enough to create overlaps. It was a poor standard of footy. With the amount of pens and only winning in the last 10 minutes of the game is a joke. Australian players don’t look up enough. I am glad they won but they should have won by a mile.

      • idiot savant

        Is that Hegarty’s fault or the coaches fault for insisting the game be played in the forwards? The Reds game plan does not release backs. In the post game press conference Thorn made a joke that that the game should be played by 15 forwards. It was Freudian moment revealing his lack of trust and understanding in backs play. The Reds have relied on the forwards since Thorn took over particularly in the opposition 22 with endless pick and drives. Last night they almost never went to the backs off set piece in the opposition 22 which was stupid given their numbers advantage in the backs. But its all down to the coaches, not the players.

      • Jason

        I think the issue this game is that we tried to go around them a little too much and should have used our centers a little more, with CFS and Samu you need to take advantage of that Wrecking Crew! Mind you Samu is probably tired from carrying the team along with the ball so much!

        I think our real issue is with our wingers not doing enough. Having bullucking runners means you’ve gotta get really good distribution from you’re ball players, but also not too much, I think Hegarty probably passed too soon in a lot of instances, then Stewart probably was a little too passing adverse. We really needed to have Stewart in between the 12 & 13 spots more or have Samu pass more. And now to our real issue, the wingers, because we have two carrying centers the wingers need to expect they aren’t going to see too much ball ‘just coming’ to them, so they need to be hunting around the middle of the park more, not necessarily coming all the way in to centers, but at least cutting back inside the fullback. Campbell wasn’t too bad at this but our orientation was typically out to the left.

        I think one of the commentators mentioned it — we really need a Digby type winger.

      • Jason

        I think the issue this game is that we tried to go around them a little too much and should have used our centers a little more, with CFS and Samu you need to take advantage of that Wrecking Crew! Mind you Samu is probably tired from carrying the team along with the ball so much!

        I think our real issue is with our wingers not doing enough. Having bullucking runners means you’ve gotta get really good distribution from you’re ball players, but also not too much, I think Hegarty probably passed too soon in a lot of instances, then Stewart probably was a little too passing adverse. We really needed to have Stewart in between the 12 & 13 spots more or have Samu pass more. And now to our real issue, the wingers, because we have two carrying centers the wingers need to expect they aren’t going to see too much ball ‘just coming’ to them, so they need to be hunting around the middle of the park more, not necessarily coming all the way in to centers, but at least cutting back inside the fullback. Campbell wasn’t too bad at this but our orientation was typically out to the left.

        I think one of the commentators mentioned it — we really need a Digby type winger.

  • HJ Nelson
    • Brisneyland Local

      Fantastic photos! Really top notch.

    • formerflanker

      Some of the best stills I have seen for some time. Really capture the nature of rugby.

  • Huw Tindall

    This was painful to watch at times. Worse than Tahs v Sharks last week IMO. Still, some glimpses from the Reds but they sure make life hard for themselves sometimes.

    Ross has called out the key points and performers but I have to stick Kerevi up there above all. He is the most important person in the Reds and more important than Genia is to the Rebels or Hooper is the Tahs IMO. Is clearly a leader and key part of the attack. His distribution game is improving no end and he isn’t slouch either. Shredding tackles left, right and centre he must be a lock at 12 for the Wallabies.

    Tupou’s best game in a while too. Made some great runs in the wider channels.

    One thing I don’t get about the Reds though is the lack of offloads. They must have the lowest number in the comp. They’ve got some great ball runners but they all seem to hold on tight and go to ground and recycle. Would love to see the stats here.

    • I’m not sure how the reds will win games or score without Kerevi next year.

      • AllyOz

        Hegarty has been better in the last couple of games but some much of what the Reds do well in attack comes down to Kerevi’s ability to break the line and off load. I think they are going to pick the game they are most likely to lose anyway and leave him out for that one. It would have been interesting see Jordan Petaia develop throughout the season – they seemed to have a couple of points to the attack when he was there.

    • Christopher

      off loads definitely a big element missing last night, but half the time there was no support either. Don’t know whether its better they hold on and recycle or try a hail mary.

      • idiot savant

        Im pretty sure there is a coaches instruction not to offload to the outside if there is a risk the player receiving will be taken into touch or might get isolated. I think its designed to maintain possession. Either that or they just dont offload! CFS is the biggest culprit.

    • Brumby Runner

      Getting personal for a moment, I reckon Stewart’s failure to pass after making a couple of line breaks was his major issue. The intercept pass was almost insane, but he could have redeemed himself a couple of times had he not been so selfish with the ball.

      • Who?

        It’s ridiculous to me that a bloke who’s supposed to be the long term 10 can receive the ball in space, with the opportunity to set up multiple runners in an overlap situation with 15m before he finds a defender, and instead he takes the ball into contact to get turned over… It wasn’t a difficult situation, just totally bombed.

      • Huw Tindall

        Yeah he ran well into space but then just tucked it under the arm. For all his faults Beale would have been running with the ball in two hands and looking for the offload and Banks would have burnt people with pace.

  • idiot savant

    The Reds did not deserve to win that game. Not because of playing ability but because of the coaching group’s tactical moronity. I was alarmed to hear Kerevi say in the post match presser that the game plan was to beat them with their set piece. The same game plan Thorn took to Tokyo last year. The same game plan that resulted in the greatest ever victory margin by the Sunwolves over any super rugby side. Do the Reds coaches ever pay the opposition the respect of studying how they play? It was obvious to any reasonable judge of the game that the way the SW play would trouble the Reds because their heavy footed forward power set piece style play would struggle against the SW high tempo offload game. But no, Big Bad Brad was gonna show em with his power game. He and Cheik are cut from the same double down and dig your heels in cloth. So he tried it again in the first match this year which was only won by a Stewart kick in the dying minutes. And it was really won by the Reds playing running football in the second half – not the power forward game. And just to prove his consistency, Brad rolled it out agin at Suncorp and this time was saved by only having to play 14 men and less. One things for certain. If the SW had 15 men for the whole game, the Reds would have lost.

    The centrepiece of this tactical stupidity was opting for repeated scrums 5 metres out when the opposition were playing with one less back. In which universe does this make sense? What was Jim McKay doing? Surely he could have radioed down to the water boy to send the message out to get Higgers to pick it up, draw the opposition half and then give it to McDermott for a probable 2 man overlap? No they kept going for a pushover try and or penalty. And lost the scrum!

    The other worrying thing about the Reds is that they believe that their set piece is a dominant force. Its not any more. The Moondogs beat them at this. The Reds set piece is only middling in comparison to other super rugby sides. Its certainly not dominant enough to build a whole game plan around.

    • Who?

      It’s bizarre to me to think that, in a game where the Wolves had half the game a man down, more time two men down, and yet more time with twelve men, in a game where the Reds made EIGHT tackles in the first 25 minutes of the second half, they allowed the Wolves to garner a losing bonus point.
      Gotta say, I’m a fan of Gardner, but I was disappointed the Touchie and TMO were able to get Masirewa the RC. No consideration of the fact that Campbell’s body height was lowered by stepping back into the tackle, and they made the call off the worst angle of replays for Masirewa. I also wouldn’t have carded Vosayaco – the ball was still in the ruck after he released Hockings. Unlike du Toit last week, where he held back Holloway after the ball had been kicked downfield. Yes, he held longer than he should have done, but without getting kicked in the head, it would’ve remained unnoticed, and wasn’t worthy of a penalty (we see the same and worse at every breakdown). So to be carded purely because you got kicked in the head is pretty harsh, and it helped seal the result.
      End result, the Reds have two wins over the Wolves this year, but both were arguably undeserved and certainly referee-assisted. I watched last night, I didn’t enjoy it, there wasn’t anything good in it.

      • ballymoreburning

        while none of you say is wrong, the SW refusal to play by the rules deserved more cards in general play IMO. there was barely a breakdown where they weren’t infringing or offside. I can see why Gardner lost his patience.

        as tactically retarded as the reds performance was, it could be argued that had they been playing against a team that was interested in the rules, they would have established more rhythm and that dominance would have delivered a more emphatic outcome. the reds were terrible, but the wolves were worse.

        the right team still won. the manner of the victory was however, was heartbreakingly bad.

        • idiot savant

          I think thats right but I still think the Reds brains trust needs to stop looking at themselves in the mirror doing bicep curls and start using their brains to coach the players to play smarter football.

          You are right about the Sunwolves desire to break the rules. They are after all coached by a kiwi brains trust! I felt for Gardniner last night. You know how Sir Rutchie used to brag about pushing the boundaries until the ref told him where they were. Well last night the SW ignored the ref’s boundaries. The SW deserved to be carded more often if you ask me.

        • Who?

          I don’t care what the opposition is doing. If you’ve only had to make 8 tackles in 25 minutes, there’s no excuse for not scoring points. They were rubbish.
          And the Wolves were regularly about as offside as every other team is (i.e. offside, but that’s standard, it’s rarely policed as heavily as last night). I’m not saying Gardner was technically wrong in his rulings, but he was more focused on policing the Wolves than average. That’s not to say they didn’t earn his ire (I missed part of the first half), but neither does it make for great viewing.
          And being ticked off with a team shouldn’t mean there’s no consideration for a player falling into a tackle, or whether a player lying on the ground holding a boot should be carded. They were both technically acceptable but they lacked feel. Who gets carded for holding someone’s boot while the ball’s still in the ruck?!

        • idiot savant

          Actually Im in favour of that card and the one handed out to the Saffa prop last week. Off the ball nonsense is weak cowardly stuff and not the game and only makes for a poorer spectacle. Shame neither of the crds have gone to kiwis as they are masters at this crap.

        • Who?

          I’ve got no issue with the one for the Saffa prop last week – the ball was gone. But the ball was still in the ruck after Hockings managed to free his boot and kick the Wolf in the face. So he wasn’t holding him back from the play, the play was static, still in the (collapsed, and therefore uncontestable) ruck.

  • Bulldog Sing

    The Reds show there is no “I in Team” unless you are talking about the one in Samu Kerevi.

Queensland Reds

I love the Reds and I love the second row. That probably tells you all you need to know about me. I can often be found engaged in pointless arguments in the GaGR forums as 'Scoey".

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