Super Rugby Preview: Reds v Blues - Green and Gold Rugby
Queensland Reds

Super Rugby Preview: Reds v Blues

Super Rugby Preview: Reds v Blues

Super Rugby is back. Whether you like it or night. Personally I am reinvigorated for rugby after a wonderful June test window. However I know not everyone is.  The first game after the break should be one that gets the fans’ attention back with a snap. Unfortunately the battle between the bottom placed kiwi team and the bottom placed Aussie will only really interest fans from Auckland or Queensland. At best.

Form

Form could be arguably irrelevant considering the three or so week break between games. Well, both teams will be hoping as much because they’ve both been pretty average of late as part of pretty average seasons as a whole.   The Blues have only had the three wins all seasons while the Reds have had four. The last encounter for each was a loss with the Reds going down to the Waratahs at Suncorp Stadium 41-52 and the Blues losing at home to the Rebels 10-20.

According to Opta Sports the  Blues  are  undefeated  in  their  last  three  games  against  the  Reds   (two wins and a draw) and the  Reds  have  won  just  two  of  their  previous  10  games  away  from  home against  the  Blues  (one draw and seven losses), with  the  most  recent  victory  in  such  a  fixture coming  back  in  2012.

Reds team

The Reds will be without Wallaby lock Izack Rodda with an injured shoulder as well as winger Izaia Perese with a knee injury.  Harry Hockings will play in place of Rodda while Eto Nabuli is an intriguing selection on the wing for Perese, while Filipo Daugunu and Aidan Toua sit on the bench.

In returns to the team Jono Lance will finally start at fullback, having been a late pull out v the Tahs, while Lukhan Tui will play 6 as he did so wonderfully for the Wallabies last weekend.  Reds fans are again treated to the exciting combination of halves Hamish Stewart and Moses Sorovi  while Wallaby rookie frontrowers Brandon Paenga-Amosa and Taniele Tupou bring the muscle up front.

 Moses Sorovi passes

Moses Sorovi passes

Blues Team

Way back in 2004 Blues legend Jerome Kaino made his Super Rugby debut against the Reds. It is ironic then that he will play the same team in this, his final match at Eden Park.  The Blues also get to call on All Blacks in Reiko Ioane and Ofa Tuungafasi on the back of their series against France.

Dynamic rookie Caleb Clark will feature on the wing while skipper and half-back Augustine Pulu is under an injury cloud and remains doubtful at the time of writing.

Key Match Ups

Reiko Ioane v Duncan Paia’aua – Ioane was superb on the wing for the All Blacks against France, but finds himself at second-five for the Blues this week.  With two tries in the first test and a hat-trick in the third, Ioane was at his irrepressible best in the 3-0 whitewash. However with Sonny Bill-Williams injured Reiko has been asked to wear the 12 shirt this week.

He’ll oppose Paia’aua who has been in and out of the Reds team in 2018. After a superb season last year, culminating with a Wallaby gig v the Barbarians, Paia’aua has been somewhat out of sorts this year. In saying that, the Reds’ attack has looked substantially better since his return to the starting side. His tackling technical deficiencies will be fully tested this match.

Jerome Kaino v Lukhan Tui – When Kaino runs out onto Eden Park this weekend, before flying off to France to finish his career, he will equal former team mate Tony Woodcock on 137 Super Rugby caps. It will place him equal second behind Keven Mealamu as the most capped for the Blues. While his form is not what it once was, his presence on the field is undeniable.

This weekend he faces one of the rising stars of the game in Tui. Fresh off the back of his remarkable test match performance on the side of the scrum, after such limited game play of late, Lukhan will again wear 6 on the weekend. It relegates the impressive Angus Scott-Young to the bench, but given how well he played against the Irish last week, the selection was never in doubt. Providing the Reds a third (or fourth) lineout option, and some much needed muscle around the field, the battle with the old bull Kanio could set off some seismic activity around greater Auckland.

Kurtley Beale about to wrap up Duncan Paia'aua

Duncan Paia’aua providing some spark to the Reds

Prediction

I actually think the Reds can win this one. I think their team is looking relatively settled and expect Brad Thorn to have them focussed on the challenge at hand. Meanwhile Tana Umaga is still struggling to get the best out of his Blues team and the pressure on him is building. Reds by 3.

Match Details

Blues

15 Matt Duffie
14 Melani Nanai
13 Michael Collins
12 Rieko Ioane
11 Caleb Clarke
10 Stephen Perofeta
9 Augustine Pulu (c)/Sam Nock
8 Akira Ioane
7 Blake Gibson
6 Jerome Kaino
5 Matiaha Martin
4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti
3 Ofa Tuungafasi
2 James Parsons
1 Alex Hodgman

Replacements:

16 Matt Moulds/Leni Apisai
17 Pauliasi Manu
18 Sione Mafileo
19 Jacob Pierce
20 Murphy Taramai
21 Jonathan Ruru
22 Bryn Gatland
23 TJ Faiane/Tumua Manu

Reds

15 Jono Lance
14 Jordan Petaia
13 Samu Kerevi
12 Duncan Paia’aua
11 Eto Nabuli
10 Hamish Stewart
9 Moses Sorovi
8 Scott Higginbotham (c)
7 George Smith
6 Lukhan Tui
5 Kane Douglas
4 Harry Hockings
3 Taniela Tupou
2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa
1 JP Smith

Replacements:

16 Alex Mafi
17 Harry Hoopert
18 Ruan Smith
19 Caleb Timu
20 Angus Scott-Young
21 Tate McDermott
22 Aidan Toua
23 Filipo Daugunu


Match Details

Date: Friday 29 June 2018

Venue: Eden Park, Auckland

Kick-off: 19:35 local, 17:35 AEST

Referee: Egon Seconds (South Africa)

Assistant referees: Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa), Glen Jackson (New Zealand)

Television match official: Ben “I just want to check something” Skeen (New Zealand)

 

  • st saens

    “Chick chick. Egon can you hear me? Foul play reds 1 through 15. Yiss Egon, I agree, yellow cards Red 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14 and 15.”

    • Happyman

      First thing I thought when I looked at the game. “Chick Chick I will need to go back 38 phases to not award this try.”

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      I am embarrassed to acknowledge that idiot as a New Zealander. I just hope Egon can tell him to shut the Fuck Up

    • Richard Patterson

      Based on commentary on this beloved website, it would appear many feel George Ayoub did not cover himself in any glory in 3 recent test matches. Someone say people in glass houses…?

      • st saens

        Random, completely unvalidated impression…IMO George Ayoub tends to err on the side of under-calling…not awarding tries when perhaps he should. Never thought he was one to stick his nose in unnecessarily. I am happy to be proven wrong on this.
        There was just something about Ben Skeen…’always heard, but never seen, that’s our TMO Ben Skeen’ that pissed me off (almost as much as Phil Kearns). Perhaps he reminds me of some primary school teacher I had many many years ago?

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    I’m not sure that Tui is a better 6 than a lock. While I acknowledge he didn’t have a bad game on Saturday I wonder how much of that was due to him being the only loosie taking the ball up so no-one to complare him with. I think Angus is having a great season and I’d rather see Tui in as a lock and Angus on the side.

  • Brumby Runner

    Go Reds. Would be most heartening to see another win against a side from over the ditch.

  • Die Hard

    I think you haven’t factored in the ability of the Blues to lose a game. It has been there best skill for some time now.

  • idiot savant

    Would it be cruel (but fair?) to describe this as a battle between the two dumbest coaches in the competition?

    • Richard Patterson

      That is cruel – and unfair. Thorn is in his rookie season and was promoted prematurely into the Head Coaching role. He has very limited player strength in key positions and an extremely young, inexperienced squad. Tana Umaga is the face of a dreadfully dysfunctional organisation. He is deserving of criticism, but the issues with the Blues sadly are deep, complicated and been poorly addressed for 15 years.

      What is deserving is that this is the battle of the 2 most poorly managed franchises in the Super Rugby competition. The fact they were once marquee organisations makes the current predicament all the more disturbing. You don’t go from great to poor through bad luck. You do from widespread incompetence!

      • idiot savant

        Fair enough. I withdraw my comments! Poorly managed sounds right.

        • Richard Patterson

          Poorly managed probably generous idiot savant! Both been unacceptably inept now for too long. But hey – the next crop of young guys coming along right? They’ll make us all look clever. Right?

    • Gipetto

      Picking Nabuli over Daugunu says dumb to me.

  • skip

    Off topic but Ioane spending time in the centers is a wise move when you think how comparatively short a winger’s career can be in NZ. Right now he probably has the pace to still learn it and recover from some of his mistakes.

Queensland Reds
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The original prop in a prop's body, but thankfully I have the rugby mind of a prop as well.

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