Digby Ioane took just 60 seconds to celebrate his 50th game with a try in the Reds’ defeat of the Blues in Auckland tonight. Ioane was heavily marked by the Blues centre pairing of Nonu and Ranger. And surely he’ll feel Nonu’s tackles tomorrow. The big Blues enforcer didn’t miss. But the Reds were all business from the moment they regained their kick off till the 80th minute when they turned over a Blues ball to end the game. There were more than a few occasions where this fan’s heart was in his mouth. This wasn’t the 2011 Reds but there were glimpses of them. The Blues were once again all over the place and coach Pat Lam will be wondering where to go from here.
As mentioned, Ioane scored in the first minute after the Reds had regained the kick-off and Lucas cross-kicked for Rob Simmons on the left wing where he had stayed after the split kick off. The big lock bought the ball back and up, falling inches short of the line. Ioane picked up the ball from the ruck and crashed his way over the line. Harris missed the conversion but the Reds led 5-0.
Luke Morahan’s try was a simple catch and pass with the big fullback’s size and pace and the threat of Davies shadowing him on the outside giving him a red carpet ride to the line. This try was more a product of poor defence than great attack but the Reds did put themselves in a position to score. Harris kick the conversion to move the Reds out to 12-0.
The Blues managed to get some time in possession and with some field position found themselves with a lineout deep inside the Reds’ 22. They pulled the ball in and rumbled the maul towards the Reds’ line. In the disarray of the maul Luke Braid manage to sneak over for the Blues’ only try. Anscombe missed the kick but the Blues were back in the match at 12-5.
The Blues’ game was slowly coming together and the rest of the half was pretty even with the only scores from penalty kicks for the Blues in the 32 minute and the Reds in the 36 minute. The half time score was 15-8.
Just after half time the Reds were hard on attack when Genia spotted Shipperly unmarked on his wing. He cut out three players to put the winger in space only metres out from the line. Shipperly managed to get the ball down on the line despite the attention of the Blues’ defence. Harris again missed the kick but the Reds had moved out to a 20-8 lead with 35 minutes to play.
Anthony Faingaa’s introduction in the 52nd minute immediately changed the Reds defence from good to very good. In his first tackle he brought Ma’a Nonu to ground, swivelled back to his feet and set about disrupting the Blues’ ball. The next time the Blues saw the ball, their backs had a 5 to 3 overlap. But Faingaa pulled Harris and Shipperly up out of the line quickly and killed the play before Nonu could get the ball away.
The Blues scored a ruck penalty in the 53rd minute but despite threatening the line and dominating territory in the last quarter of the game didn’t manage to score again. The Reds managed to win their own penalty in the 75th minute, pulling the difference out far enough to ensure there would be no bonus point for the Blues.
In a sure sign that their confidence is not quite there Shipperly opted to punt the ball out rather than downfield for a chance at a bonus point try. Surely last years Reds would have taken the punt?
For the Reds there was a welcome return to form from Rob Simmons, Will Genia and Ben Daley. With a mark improvement in team’s hunger for the ball and an end to pushed passes and poor ball retention. For the Blues there is very little to take out of this game.
The Reds have injury clouds over James Slipper and Beau Robinson. No details yet but we welcome details in the replies section. No backs were inured in this game! How long has it been since we could say that?
The Blues appear to be unscathed.
It’s a big call but I’m giving Digby Ioane’s try the moment in this game. 60 seconds in the man playing his 50th match scores a try. The Reds’ hearts soared and they never looked back. Not even Ma’a Nonu’s massive defensive effort could put a dent in the Reds optimism after that.
Ma’a Nonu was good in a beaten team. James Horwill lead form the front. Will Genia was nearly his old self. Digby Ioane ran Hard. Anthony ‘The Starch’ Faingaa did what he does.
But the man was Liam Gill! He was everywhere. A pest over the ball, trucking it up, cutting players down, playing link man. He did it all. A very good openside game for a very young player. It really looks like Australia will have three great opensides competing for a Wallaby spot in the very near future. Surely not a bad thing?
The Talking Point
I’ve thought about the game and can’t think of one moment I can describe as a talking point. I do however keep coming back to one thing. And That’s the Blues! What happened to them this season? I look at this team on paper and then look at their 1-8 win/loss record and wonder what went wrong. I would love to read your opinions on the Blues’ 2012 season in the comments below.
From Mount Isa writes Haikus
I don’t think so mate.
The Reds looked better, but can you really judge their performance against a team so obviously out of sorts? The Crusaders and the Chiefs in the next couple of weeks will definitely test the Reds more than tonight. It will be interesting to see if the Reds can continue to improve against stiffer opposition.
Last — get out and watch some local rugby this weekend! They need and deserve your support. Have a good one.
- Preview Blues V. Reds. The Return of A. Faingaa(greenandgoldrugby.com)