Semi-Final Preview: Reds v. Blues - Green and Gold Rugby
Queensland Reds

Semi-Final Preview: Reds v. Blues

Semi-Final Preview: Reds v. Blues

Coming from over the ditch

The Queensland Reds have played finals matches three times since the start of the Super 12 and their record is not something they will be drawing any inspiration from, having lost them all. This has, however, been a season of record-breaking for the Reds, so why would the history-making stop now?

Let’s look back before we go forward. For Queensland, the early days of professional rugby appeared to be the beginning of a slide that was going to continue for more than a couple of years. It was gradual, though. Queensland entered the new world of professionalism as back-to-back champions of the amateur Super 10 competition. The inaugural year of Super 12 saw the Reds finish top of the table and earn the right to host the semi-final. All eerily similar really… The match was held at their home ground, Ballymore, against the Natal Sharks. The visitors won by 43 to 25.

In 1999 the Reds again finished top of the table. They lost just three regular games and finished above the Stormers, again earning the right to host the semi-final. The Reds hosted the Crusaders at Ballymore, and again the visiting team won (28 to 22). The only other finals action the Reds have seen was in 2001. After finishing fourth they played the Brumbies in Canberra, losing by 30 to 6.

After that it was a steady decline to become Super cellar dwellers, placing fifth, then eighth, and then a couple of 10ths, a 12th, a 13th and eventually claiming the wooden spoon in 2007. Needless to say, some positivity at finals time has been pretty hard to come by, but this year I have the feeling that something special is building at Ballymore and this record is looking like going the way of all the other hurdles the Reds have cleared this season.

A bumper crowd is expected

There is of course one thing looking to stop the fairytale, and that’s the Bros from Auckland. The Blues have had a great season so far, with Pat Lam seeming to steady the team and achieve what had been the biggest problem: consistency. That was before the team suffered a couple of key injuries and the season looked to be getting away from them, but they have managed to keep afloat, making it through their qualifying final against the Waratahs without too much trouble.

Injury has played a part in the line-up Pat is able to put on the field again, with a bit of a “do you want the bad news or the good news” type of situation. The bad news is they have lost a key forward in Anthony Boric; the good news is Rene Ranger may be coming back into the XV. I say may, because he has been bracketed with Lachie Munro depending on his rib injury. One of them will be on the bench, one starting.

edit: Lachie Munro has been selected ahead of Rene Ranger, who sits of the bench. On the bench, James King is selected ahead of Mat Luamanu and Sherwin Stowers ahead of Winston Stanley.

The Reds have enjoyed the week off they earned by topping the table. It has given a few of their injured players a bit of extra time to ensure their fitness. Beau Robinson was able to get through a half of club footy on the weekend to give himself confidence coming back from his elbow injury. Ant Faingaa, to quote coach Ewen McKenzie, has been ‘poked and prodded all over’ to prove his fitness. Ewen was not wanting to start anyone less than 100 per cent fit. That means Digby Ioane has fully recovered from his head knock (or is that ‘footballers migraine’?) and the additional week can only have helped there.

The Reds have enjoyed the week's rest

Still, it is not a full squad Link has to select from, with Mike Harris revealing on this week’s podcast that he hasn’t healed as fast as he would have liked. James Slipper is another from the front-line team still in triage.

Key Match Up: Forwards. The Reds lose a bit with the solid and dynamic Slipper out. So do the Blues with their lineout general Anthony Boric not being fit. It is going to be important that the Reds’ pigs will be able to do the grunt work at the breakdown and both secure fast ball for their back and deny the Blues the same. They know they will have a job on their hands with Keven Mealamu in the opposite pack, and they are also facing Luke Braid who has been good enough to keep his big brother Daniel on the bench. This is finals footy and there are no more bonus points, so the pigs need to do the work.

Tip: The Reds should have this one. The week off had been the perfect tonic for nearly all that ailed them and they will be fresher for it. Losing Boric is a big hit for the Blues; couple that with the fact that Pat Lam can’t decide which of Munro or Ranger is the least injured, it’s clear they are a little the worse for wear having an extra game under their belts. The Blues will fight hard, but I see the Reds breaking their semi-final duck and securing their first final by securing a nine-point win.

Reds Team: 15. Jono Lance, 14. Rod Davies, 13. Anthony Faingaa, 12. Ben Tapuai, 11. Digby Ioane, 10. Quade Cooper, 9. Will Genia, 8. Radike Samo, 7. Beau Robinson, 6. Scott Higginbotham, 5. James Horwill, 4. Rob Simmons, 3. Greg Holmes, 2. Saia Fiangaa, 1. Ben Daley. Reserves: 16. James Hanson, 17. Guy Shepherdson, 18. Adam Wallace-Harrison, 19 Jake Shatz, 20. Liam Gill, 21. Ian Prior, 22. Will Chambers.

Blues Team: 15. Jared Payne, 14. Joe Rokocoko, 13.  Benson Stanley, 12. Luke McAlister, 11. Lachie Munro/Rene Ranger, 10. Stephen Brett, 9. Alby Mathewson, 8. Peter Saili, 7. Luke Braid, 6. Jerome Kaino, 5. Ali Williams, 4. Chris Lowrey, 3. John Afoa, 2. Keven Mealamu (c), 1. Charlie Faumuina.  Reserves: 16. Tom McCartney, 17. Tevita Mailau, 18. James King/Mat Luamanu, 19. Daniel Braid, 20. Chris Smylie, 21. Lachie Munro/Rene Ranger, 22. Winston Stanley/Sherwin Stowers.

Referee: Jonathan Kaplan

AR 1: Stuart Dickinson

AR 2: James Leckie

TMO: George Ayoub

Saturday 2 July, 2011 at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane: kick-off 19h40 AEST (21h40 NZ/11h40 SA)

  • roland

    I am honestly so confident the reds can get the goods this week. I thought i would be a nervous wreck, but I think they just got too much firepower in the backs, a much more dominant lineout, a hard nosed backrow and the tight five muscle up. Throw in the Genia – Quade show, home ground advantage, the weeks rest, Ewan “the Messiah” McK, and i find myself with a 15 point win margin.

    • Patrick

      Only 15 Roland? I’m disappointed in you ;)

      That said I also see the Reds having a real edge here. Even better, their opponents next week will spend 80 minutes beating the absolute crap out of each other and then get on a plane to Brisbane…but I really really hope I’m not getting ahead of myself!

    • Jay

      I think the Reds will take it, but the Blues still have a fairly strong backline and Ali Williams has been pinching lineout ball for fun this season, so a couple of your reasons are off the mark IMO.

      What I do think will help the Reds is that they should have an edge at the breakdown big time. Which will give Genia and Cooper the time and space to do what they do best.

      • bill

        If the reds get quick breakdown ball they tend to slaughter teams.

        The blues are a good outfit. Ranger and Roko are very, very good. Munro’s been good for them, McAllister is maturing.

        Queensland, though, so many big game type performances over the season.They just keep turning up and believing in each other.

        Still, I was hoping the tahs would push the blues more. And the blues have had to find their own share of self belief this year. Should be a cracking game.

      • roland

        No Boric. 1 vs 3 lineout jumpers. any other “off the mark comments”?

        • Jay

          Kaino is still an excellent lineout target and competes well on opposition ball too. The Blues lineout has been a strength this year – I stand by my earlier comments.

        • roland

          I guess only time will tell. I just think it is an area the reds can target. I also think the reds bench is stronger so the last 20 will be massive.

  • Alan

    As a Tah fan i wish the reds all the best, they deserve to go all the way. With some quality players returning, in front of a packed suncorp i also believe they will defeat the Blues.

    …just hoping for no new injuries this close to the internationals

  • Mighty Moth

    Looks like a tight contest!
    Reds for the win with a big home crowd and some crappy turf!

  • chriscullen

    Reds look too strong at home but if Brett and McAlistair can both play at their best and Ranger and Rokokoco get going their could be problems. Actually the chances of all four playing well on the same night is a million to one.

  • Neahb

    Tipping a tight win for the Reds. My biggest concern…..1 x Jonathon Kaplan

    • Roland

      Yeah he will be doing all he can to ensure his saffa team get the home final and the revenues etc.

      • Gag her

        Yep, I was confident The Reds would win until I saw Kaplan was reffing.

        • Jimmy

          Same here – although at least its the Reds and not the Tahs. If it was the Tahs I’d actually put money on the other team.

          c’mon reds

    • bill

      I don’t think it’ll be an issue, just take it out of the refs hands. Scrum time will have to be tight though.

      If we were playing the cru I’d be pleased with Kaplan, I think he’d whistle em off the park at the breakdown.

    • Slim 293

      If anything, Kaplan generally benefits the home team and, with a combination of Dickinson on the sideline the Reds should be happy with the appointment…

  • Reds4thewin

    The Blues seem a bit like the Sharks last week- going into the game on a prayer.. I’m expecting the Reds with FINALLY Digby, A.Faingaa, Beau, back to be looking to cut loose after a couple of grinding wins. Reds by 12+.

  • bill

    Stu Dickonson on the touch and George Ayoub TMO lol. Let the bleating commence.

    At least George has been good since becoming a TMO, and he doesn’t have to invent reasons to be heard on telly! Bonus.

  • Bullrush

    I’m hoping for a big game from the Blues this weekend.

    My biggest concern is McAllister and Brett defending together in the back-line. I’d have been tempted to play Benson Stanley at 12, Payne at 13 and maybe Munroe at 15 – I guess with Munroe and Ranger both bracketed that would have been difficult. Thanks Waugh.

    For the Blues, having Kaino in the pack is massive. I’d love to see him put a couple of big hits on early – he was missed big time in their first match-up. Faumuina is also pretty good around the park too. Luke Braid needs to have another huge match but there’s not a bad replacement sitting on the bench either.

    geez….it should be a cracking game….GO THE BLUES!!!

  • chasmac

    I’m looking forward to this one.
    The matchups that interest me most are Kaino V’s Higgers and Horwill V’s Big Kev.
    I’m tipping the Reds by 10.
    MOM will be Tapuai with 1 try and 1 try assist.

    • reds fan

      Horwill v Big Ali perhaps?

    • Braveheart

      ….. Horwill IS big kev!!!!

      I think you mean Ali Williams?

      • chasmac

        Yup
        Horwill v’s Williams —- Both in line for rep duties. Both with competition for their rep spots.
        Similarly for the No 6’s

  • Nutta

    Good luck Queensland

    You have a better lineout then the Blues so you will get your own and maybe a couple of theirs. But be sensible and stay away from Mr Williams

    You have Beau back so your own ball is secure and you might pinch a couple of theirs and your general “around the ground” forwards performance is stronger then the Blues esp with Samo, Kev and Higgers trotting about

    Your scrum is a worry but the pitch is shifty so that may cancel out what would otherwise be a potential major problem for you

    Your fast-fairies are grand and the best in the comp this year. Please be careful of aimless kicking because the Blues will make you pay if you do

    Play fast. Play hard. Don’t let them slow the game up. You have gone from zero’s to hero’s in the space of 2yrs with the same player group so you obviously believe in each other. Go and take what is yours, enjoy the taste of it and be one step closer to the Big One

    You bastards.

  • Joe Mac

    Kaplan will do everything to give the Stormers a home grand final. The extra man the Blues will have out there will be the defining factor to them beating the Reds tomorrow.

    God I hope not!

    • Bullrush

      Wow……we haven’t kicked off and we’re already compalining about the ref??

      Even Bob Dwyer waits till after the game is finished……lol

      • Joe Mac

        haha ill pay that Bullrush

  • The Battered Slav

    Let’s hope Kaplan’s anti-Aus decision making is offset by Dickinson’s anti-NZ touch-judging (sorry, assistant refereeing, sorry again, Assistant Refereeing).

    All jokes aside, I expect the Reds to take this one in a somewhat close game. Too much out wide and too much enthusiasm in the forwards in my opinion. I am somewhat worried about the inclusion of Ranger, should that actually occur, but I think the inclusion of Dancing Digby will cancel that out nicely.

    Will be an absolute turf-burner and am looking forward to it immensely. Good luck to the Blues and the Reds, and may the Kiwi seeds of doubt begin sprouting!!!!

  • Muffy

    Just found out I am going to the game….woo hooo….Just have to take out a loan to afford the beer and pies at Suncorp…

    …………

    How good is it here in QLD to hear the local radios, TV stations and even mungos talking bout the reds and rugby!!!

    I live in the heart of Mungoland and some of them (not all) have stopped hitting their wives just long enough to notice there is actually another code played in Queensland…and….by gosh Tarquin, they are doing rather well..

    KARN REDZ!!!!!

  • KingofDubai

    Blues are average. A full strength Tahs side would have whipped them last weekend.

    Reds are solid from the ground up- Great article by LInk yesterday says it all. They all seem so focused, no individuals in the side (although some wicked game breakers) they play well as a group.

    Horwill V Big Kev will be a huge game. Just hope theres no injuries involved!!!

    Stormers to beat ‘Saders in SA and Reds to take the crown

    • Jay

      A full strength Tahs lineup got whipped by the Blues in round 9.

      • bill

        The blues and reds games occupy a special place in my dark little heart ever since 95/96? 50 points each way. Ignore either side at your peril.

        • bill

          Bring the pain Lads, we have the game.

  • Gordo

    Queenslanders!! From our tiny outpost all the way across the world here on the island of StCroix we are with you. We will be watching you live at 515am with all the support and fanfare that our small expat Oz/Kiwi group can muster. Sooo proud to wear the red jersey. Sooo excited to see what an entire state and country’s collective pride will do for the boys on the paddock. Bring it home lads..bring it to Brisbane!!!

    • Scarfman

      Any virgins left up your way, Gordo?

  • bill

    Every so often, and Qld make a habit of it more than most, to their own benefit, you see a team turn around a previous result on their opponents. So Qld should be doubly on guard in their execution, enthusiasm and grit against a resurgent Blues team given their regular season result.

Queensland Reds
@mrtimms

Steve Timms, He likes watching the odd game of Rugby, occasionally writes about it.. Proud member of the original Mudchooks.

More in Queensland Reds