Western Force are Kings of Queensland - Green and Gold Rugby
Queensland Reds

Western Force are Kings of Queensland

Western Force are Kings of Queensland

Queensland and New South Wales may be gearing up for Rugby League’s State of Origin next week but there can be no questioning the dominance Western Australia holds over the Queensland Reds in the Rugby Union code.

The Match


King Wally Lewis, Queensland’s ‘Emperor of Lang Park’, might have a challenger to his mantle in the shape of the Western Force, victorious 40 points to 26 over their eastern rivals in front of 12,040 bitterly disappointed fans at Suncorp Stadium.

The hapless Reds proved the architects of their own execution as a near-constant stream of errors followed a near-total lack of discipline, handing the Force their fifth win from eight fixtures between the two sides.

The Force were worthy winners as Wallabies lock Adam Coleman spearheaded a physical, accurate performance.

Queensland snuck out to an early lead as a Quade Cooper dummy opened the defence out wide for Duncan Paia’aua to score inside five minutes.

A ball-and-all try-saver denied Nick Frisby in the 10th minute but cruel hope had already spread like wildfire throughout the Suncorp Stadium crowd.

Accurate defence from the Force continued to frustrate the Reds on attack while the flawless goal kicking of former Springbok flyhalf Peter Grant kept the scoreboard ceaselessly ticking over.

A Stephen Moore high tackle was punished by Grant before Queensland were dealt another blow as Quade Cooper was denied the first of three TMO try decisions on the night.

Force centre Curtis Rona stripped the ball clear of Samu Kerevi and into the path of Cooper, regathering to score in the 30th minute, only to be adjudicated offside in a head-scratching decision.

Momentum swung back towards the Force as a second Grant penalty edged the Westerners ahead 6-5 in the 33rd minute.

An unforced error sent the Force to the corner, picking and driving through homegrown product Ross Haylett-Petty to score before half-time.


Nick Frisby got Queensland off to the best possible start in the second, gliding between tacklers to set up Cooper to fire a pass for support runner Lukhan Tui to score in the 42nd minute.

Force halfback Michael Ruru engineered a cunning reply by diving over the ruck to earn a penalty try for his side and a yellow card for the interfering Nick Frisby.

The Reds conceded a penalty but rallied to drive Stephen Moore over with twin rolling maul tries to net the Wallaby captain his fourth and fifth tries within four games and a 26-23 lead.

A flare-up between Moore and enForcer Adam Coleman disrupted play, breaking the home side’s concentration just enough to steal back the lead through Marcel Brache.

With the sides separated by just four-points, a poor high-tackle from Queensland winger Eto Nabuli called for the second yellow card of the match.

That card broke the Reds spirit and the Force quickly added a try to Tatafu Polota-Nau and a third penalty to Peter Grant to close out the match with an indomitable 40-26 scoreline.

The Game Changer

The yellow card to Queensland’s Eto Nabuli, his third for the season, consolidated the Reds’ position as the most-carded team in Super Rugby with 12 in 12 games. The inexplicable high tackle resulted in Nebuli’s third for the season. With the Reds down a player for 20 minutes of the second half, the Force rightfully kicked their hosts to the curb.


It’s hard not to love what Adam Coleman brings to the Western Force. A Tasmanian Devil in the truest sense of the phrase, the Wallabies would be foolish to leave this whirlwind of pain out of the starting XV. Peter Grant receives an honourable mention for his smooth game management and perfect 7/7 goal kicking display.

Wallaby watch

Matt Philip and Adam Coleman must be endearing themselves to Michael Cheika with their robust physical performances. It will make for an interesting Day One of Wallabies camp when captain Stephen Moore packs down alongside Coleman. With Moore the clear exception,  #REDvFOR 2017 did more harm than good to the Wallaby prospects of the Queensland Reds, who now are eliminated from any discussion of Australian #1 seeds.

The Details

Crowd: 12,040

Score & Scorers

Queensland Reds: 26
Tries: Duncan Paia’aua (5′), Lukhan Tui (41′), Stephen Moore (50′, 57′)
Conversions: Quade Cooper (42′, 51′, 59′)
Western Force: 40
Tries: Ross Haylett-Petty (38′), Penalty Try (44′), Marcel Brache (61′), Tatafu Polota-Nau (69′)
Conversions: Peter Grant (39′, 62′, 70′)
Penalties: Peter Grant (28′, 32′, 49′, 74′)

Cards & citings

Nick Frisby (44′), Eto Nabuli (66′)

If you’re a Western Force fan, it’s worth watching a triumphant story of little brother sticking it to the big guy. If you’re not so keen on swimming in a Sea of Blue, best steer clear of this one.

  • Kiap

    Great win for the Western Force. Gun held to this team’s heads by their own nation’s administrators and they keep turning up with grit and fight.

    The cowards at the top of the game who can’t even be bothered issuing a statement in the last two months to explain themselves could learn a thing or two.

    An all-round team performance and well coached by Dave Wessels. Coleman should be first man picked for Test duties.

    Good write-up, Nic. Tough one for a Reds fan.

  • idiot savant

    Outcoached, outsmarted, out-enthused. Stiles predicted the Force would play a negative scragging game and yet wasnt able to counter it.

    Once again the less creative side triumphs in Rugby. The Brumbies and the Force, arguably our two best performed sides, are our two least creative. Yes I acknowledge that they have probably got the two best forward packs but both sides hardly have a playmaker between them. Thats the kind of rugby that is currently privileged by the rules and the way it is officiated and Wessels understands this better than Stiles.

    A couple of things I took away from this were: Cooper stops playing rugby after about 50 minutes, gets tired of running. and kicks poorly. Dropping him back to 15 in defence is hurting the Reds. While he continues to dazzle in the first halves of games he becomes a problem in the second, and I believe this is at the core of the Reds poor second half performances. Yet I suspect Stiles will continue to go shoe shopping with him and blame Frisby and others. Given his savage treatment of Frisby, there are the seeds of inequity in his approach to players here if he doesn’t address the Cooper problem at 15. Dropping Cooper back to 15 also takes out Hunt, the Reds strongest runner, from running the ball back. Its a poor coaching strategy that isnt working. Hunt didn’t get many touches last night and where is the sense in that?

    Poor Kerevi may have played himself out of a Wallaby jersey last night. He has a huge heart but Wessels did his homework and targeted Kerevi’s loose carrying. You can bet other coaches saw that.

    • AllyOz

      G’day Sauvant (sorry to call you by your second name but the alternative seemed a little ruder). I agree with your comments re: playing Cooper at 15 but it isn’t a new thing and not just Stiles that has employed it – McKenzie was probably the first to employ it. Also agree that it costs us seeing the best from Hunt and I think the best of Hunt is much better than the best of Cooper at the moment.

    • Rebels3

      Cooper was alright, it’s the reds front 5 where it’s lost. They labor into contact and don’t throw their shoulder into tackles, but statistically it’ll prob show they won their lineouts, made 5 hit ups each (for prob 5m), won their scrums and tackle % over 85%. I’d much rather stats that show, meters in contact, gainline success, and scrum ascendancy. With tackles id much rather a team that tackle some 78% but beats their opponent black and blue in contact, than someone who tackles 85% but let’s the opponent win the contact

      • Geoffwho

        I was about to make the same comment. It wasn’t so much about Cooper getting tired after 50 but rather once the Force forwards started winning the collisions in attack and making dominant tackles in defence, the Reds had no counter but to kick downfield and hope for a mistake or better yet, a penalty and get into a position for a driving maul. Force played a smart all round game.

      • idiot savant

        Theres some truth to what you say, particularly with the age of the Reds pack. They do get slower in the second half and the young guys like L Tui haven’t built the stamina motor up yet. However, Cooper has been consistently dangerous in every first half and sometimes electric but I cannot recall him being an attack leader in the last 30 minutes this season. I can recall him making mentally tired decisions – high tackles, nothing kicks, drop off in second touches etc. There has been a pattern to his play all season – brilliant in the first half, errant decision making in the second half.

        • Adrian

          Good points about Cooper and Co idiot.

          If some of the $ spent on forwards was spent on backs, a reserve 5/8 could have been bought to come on with 20 to go.

          Trouble is, there are none to buy!

          Brumbies and Rebels bought kiwis who couldn’t crack SR and they aren’t great.

          If I were the Reds I’d use Smith as a roving fill-in to rest the 1/2, 5/8 and IC (at wing or FB) at various times in the second half, and maintain control.

          This sort of thing happens in RL, AFL and EPL, and isn’t the same as swapping players around in attack and defence

          The Reds are seriously deficient when it comes to depth with the inside backs

        • Rugby watcher

          Good points – but I don’t know if I have ever seen Cooper make a low tackle.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      There seems to be something wrong up top with the Reds and the influence of Thorne, Smith and Higgers doesn’t seem to be having the positive effect it should be. To me it appears a thinking and attitude issue more than skills. I think a lot of the Reds are playing their way out of the Wallabies right now

    • Waz_dog

      IS cooper was fine and isn’t tired. The look he gives is jaded not tired. Frisby is the problem that we’re faced with is qc just isn’t getting the pill at the right time or getting it when it should still be with the forwards, and then needs to come up with a fancy play to try and get things going (he’s never going to be the 2011 player again and wouldn’t lose sleep if never played for the wallabies again either). It’d be the same no matter who was flyhalf with frisby at 9. He’s shocking – box kicks to no ad; box kick when no one was even chasing; no game management to know how to set his forward phases up and when to pull the trigger for the backline plays. No gauge of tired forwards to snipe at the ruck. He was a big reason why we didn’t retain momentum last night.

      Defence was soft as butter or head highs. Failed to retain the pill after a restart from scoring a try which lead to them scoring a try and more yellow cards.

      • idiot savant

        Agree on defence. The Reds need a better defence strategy and or coach. D has been a problem all season.

        On Frisby, I think maybe the Rum and cokes kicked in? When he left the field he had just set up Tui’s try and the Reds were in command. All the other sins you mention happened under the replacement.

        • Waz_dog

          Na I was sitting in section 334 and got a good view of what he was doing because they were running towards Milton rd. terrible game management. He made that one line break that was good but in reality it was broken play. He just doesn’t have the core roles nailed down and neither the forwards or the backs can ply their trade when he’s running the show imo. Would be interesting to see the reds team being marched around by the brumbs scrumhalf. He’s the best in Aus atm

  • AllyOz

    “It will make for an interesting Day One of Wallabies camp when captain Stephen Moore packs down” yes well maybe Stephen Moore will still be captain by then

  • AllyOz

    We often hear talk about the drop off in the Australia skill level and that this is the one of the major points that needs to be addressed to see our position in Super Rugby improve but the thing we seem to ignore with most Aussie teams is the lack of discipline. The Reds could hardly hope to win with 1 less man for 25% of the game and I must admit i only listened on the radio so I can’t say whether the penalties were deserved or not but it is constantly costing Aussie teams games, particularly the Reds and the Waratahs. The Force actually won less ball from set piece (14 vs 20) but gave away less penalties and dropped far less ball. The former coach in me feels that ill-discipline is much like coming up out of the line in defence or coming off your wing to make a tackle. It means you don’t trust the bloke beside/inside you to do the job and that you must cheat the rules and risk a penalty because of that lack of trust. the player in me was an ill-disciplined one who unfortunately cost his team games because of that kind of attitude.
    I am not sure how much of the poor discipline can be blamed on coaching. I read that Stiles had a ref at training all week so he obviously acknowledges that it was an issue. I think there is far too much emphasis on “passion” and firing blokes up. Far better that they are ruthless and undertake their jobs with dedication, precision, clear focus and clear thinking than just getting fired up and making an odd occasional big hit that potentially gets them yellow carded and costs their team the game. Rant over. (but plenty of bile left in the tank)

    • AllyOz

      Just to add to my comments above on the Reds – the Waratahs showed an equally poor attitude to discipline against the Highlanders and they have also constantly displayed poor discipline throughout the season. Another yellow card and conceding three more penalties than their opposition. This follows on from another poor disciplinary performance against the Rebels the previous week. Yes the Tahs have a relatively young and inexperienced team but if a team is better and more experienced than you it is certainly not going to help your cause by handing them a free hit every five or ten minutes in the form of a penalty. I am not sure whether this is a developmental thing, whether it is poor coaching or a lack of understanding of the rules or whether players lack confidence in the ability of their team mates and themselves and are convinced that they can only win by cheating. Also a lot of these penalties appear to be dumb penalties – lifting tackles and high shots – blokes who aren’t up to the standard trying to play the big man – well big men you cost your team the game. (see I told you there was still some bile left).

  • Brumby Runner

    The difference between Coleman and Simmons was clearly on display last night. One vying for MOTM and the other practically invisible for the whole 80 minutes. Philip and Tui both had much more involvement than Rob. Don’t think we’ll see him in June.

    • Rebels3

      Exactly, if you ask me the difference between the reds winning by double figures and the force winning was one front 5 belted the opposition, ran hard, tackled harder than the other who simply did their technical duty.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      I rate Tui. He’s a future Wallaby if he keeps improving

      • Lee Grant

        Yeah – Lukhan’s progress has been astonishing since we saw him play schoolboy reps in Sydney in 2014 – nobody had heard of him. He was good in the Oz Under 20s in 2015 and outstanding last year.

        Come home son.

      • Tim

        he should have stayed on and subbed simmons off

      • SuckerForRed

        I still want to stick an 8 on his back though….

    • Lee Grant

      No stirring here but there was one shot in the second half when the Reds were in a huddle for some reason, and it was only then I realised Simmons was playing.

  • Bobas

    Western Reg will be unhappy about this.

  • first time long time

    The amount of time spent watching the refs have a circle jerk last night, trying work out what was going on, is a blight on the game as a live spectacle.

    The reds are frustrating this year to say the least. Again if they converted their chances, they would have wiped the floor with the Force but instead they miss out on a try and then immediately give up a penalty right in front of the posts for a 10 point turnaround.

    Agree with Stilesy getting some more of the young nuts in for the last few games, might as well, but I think we need some old heads in to help with the coaching if there are any available.

  • Adrian

    Was obvious from selections that Force were going to play 80 min in forwards and kick a lot. Imagine tired Reds forwards seeing TPN coming on mid 2nd half to drive it up even harder.

    Don’t blame Cooper, look at the intensity of all 8 Reds forwards

    • idiot savant

      Absolutely agree about the message the Force elections sent. If the Reds had scored 2 of the 5 tries they blew the game may have panned out differently tho. I notice Stiles named his side well before Wessels did. Would he have changed it had he seen the Force side first? Probably not.

      And also agree about the lack of intensity of Reds forwards in the last 30. I don’t blame Cooper alone but maintain that his game has dropped off noticeably in the last 30 all season long and is a factor – particularly when your game plan is built around him.

      • Adrian

        I think that if you known the opposition game plan before the game, and the game plan intimidates you to some extent, it can be off-putting.

        The Reds knew the forwards tussle would be hard, win, loose or draw, and were intimidated before they got started really. Coleman, TPB, Isi the No8 and even Hodgson can be brutal beasts

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        I think Cooper is suffering from the ball he is getting. He is standing very deep because the pass seems so laboured. I can’t understand why the halfbacks spend so long getting everything just right before they feed the ball out. This is just giving the defence time to set up.

        I also think this continual swap of position between in the line or out is hurting the continuity of the Reds backline. I would think that if they just left players alone in their position you would get a much better product. I know Coopers lack of defence drives a lot of this but ffs he just needs to front up – and to be fair he has been better when he isn’t going high.

        This was a very disappointing game, especially considering the difference between the heart shown here and what was on display with the Sharks earlier in the year. To me it points to some serious trouble at the management level that has crept into the playing group.

        • Adrian

          Yes, there is an issue between 9 and 10 with Reds

          The halfbacks really aren’t good at all, and Cooper is only a deep backline 5/8. Cheika tried to get him to be flatter, but he couldn’t do it.

          I’d try something different, and convert Cooper to halfback, as he has great passing skills. I’d put Smith at 5/8 and make him captain. He has played top level 5/8 before (as well as 6,7,8,9,12).
          I’d have a flatter backline dictated by Smith, with Hunt and Nabuli coming in.

          I’d have the pack playing tight, and playing as a pack, not as 8 skilled individuals. I’d have Higginbotham being the only back row guy with a roving commission, because he’ll do that anyway.
          Ready to start, Thor to start, no Simmons, no Douglas. Houston to start.
          Play Rugby, not solo

        • first time long time

          I agree we are struggling in the halves for various reasons but shit I’m glad you’re not picking our backline Adrian

        • Adrian

          Agree absolutely, but wouldn’t do any worse.

          Main problem is the pack tough. They’re not a pack!

        • first time long time

          They seem to be going really well in a game and then they just lose all potency and intent for 10 – 15 min periods. I’d be happy if Stiles started yanking players at the 20 min mark if they stop performing on the field, who cares if we run out of reserves, drop them for the next week and give someone hungry and perhaps fit enough a go.

  • RedAnt

    And to think the future of the Reds is assured.

    • Gingerbeer

      My plea to the ARU:
      Put an end to this farce about which team to cut and announce the Reds will be scrapped. Besides, all evidence points to the fact that players that come through the Queensland system play better at other franchises anyway.
      Another disgraceful effort by the Reds last night. One team wanted to be there and win – leave them in the competition and cut the Reds instead. Honestly, just put be out of my misery.

      • Bakkies

        What shocks is the lack of attitude and fight which are supposed to be Queenslander’s best attributes. Maybe going back to the maroon jersey would help some bit.

        It amazes me that two of the original teams in the Brumbies and Force who had the futures in question have excellent head to head records against the Reds.

  • Will

    Western Force take a bow, that was a great game of rugby and you kicked some lazy arses in Brisbane. Imagine if the Force topped the Australian conference….

    With a team roster that the Reds have Stiles must be under pressure?

  • Nicholas

    Drop Nabuli and Frisby, enough is enough. Getting one yellow is bad, getting one every game is fucken disgustingly. The coaches need to draw a line. If you get a card, next week you are playing club rugby.

  • Adrian

    It’s an embedded cultural thing, that is or has been unique to the Reds for last few years.

    It stretches from the board, down through the coaches to the senior players, and ultimately effects the younger players.

    This annoys me, even though I’m not a Reds supporter. I want all Australian teams to do well.

    It’s hard to describe, but it’s about being fakely “layback”, and carrying on as if you have everything under control. There is an element of sports coat and tie about it. Very dry style

    Bringing back players who have had this attitude from a younger age (when previously with Reds) hasn’t helped.

    Some examples:
    Moore playing well (mostly) but not showing much enthusiasm or leadership, either as captain or not

    Coach slamming younger enthusiastic players for off and on field things (Ready, Frisby), but not older players (Higginbotham). Smells of some are entitled, and some aren’t.

    Showing no understanding of backline play, whilst over-recruiting in forwards……yet it is the forwards who barely raise a sweat in most games

    Not understanding how to use guys like George Smith, who could have brought a high intensity mind set to the Reds. He must wonder why he’s there, and doesn’t seem to fit in.

    Coach criticism of performance of individuals, rather than team

    No enthusiasm…no passion

    • idiot savant

      Yeah I worry there may be different rules for different blokes. Although to be fair to Stiles he was publicly critical of Higgers late night antics. I think alas there is probably also a fear around criticising Cooper lest he start borrowing laptops without permission. If you have a character you need to tread carefully around it can’t make it easy to apply the same rules to all.

      As you say, it is ironic that the Reds have the most dangerous back line in the Australian conference yet they have recruited a whole bunch of experienced forwards who have failed to dominate. Is it just that teams need time to gel?

      Im not sure about George Smith. He is the most penalised player in Super Rugby, and the leader of the Reds lack of discipline. Throw in Cooper’s continual lack of discipline and you have two team leaders who are supposed to set standards but are penalty magnets. There is a problem right there. With the season gone I would hope Smith gets less game time so younger players can get more experience at 7.

      • Adrian

        Hmmm…yes and no.

        I think that Cooper and Smith are always trying something, often trying to catch up. I don’t really think that’s the problem, but I admit it’s an easy one to notice.

        I look at the faces of Moore, Slipper (earlier this year), Simmons, Douglas (earlier), Higginbotham (though he’s playing well), and I don’t see desperation of any kind. It seems to be import to them to look like it’s “just another day in the office”, and that eventually they’ll prevail. That is also how the Crusaders look, but they’ve walked the walk to get there.

        I realise that I can’t put my finger on it, but it’s like these senior players don’t want to LOOK like they are concerned.

        I’m unfortunately not convinced that some actually are concerned either

        • idiot savant

          Hmmm… maybe.

          I think that if I’m Nabuli and I can see Super Cooper is allowed to smack people around the chops, then why can’t I do it to? Personally I think there should be an internal fine in the club for YC. Get at them through their hip pocket.

          I don’t think you can fault Higgers endeavour this season, and his go forward that came before the Duncan P try is something he has regularly done. But the rest of them do not bore in to contact consistently. It was noticeable how the Force really bored in all night. And despite my observations about Cooper Id have to agree with you that was probably the difference last night.

        • AllyOz

          I have never been much of a Cooper fan but I am loath to be too critical of him given that the forwards and half had less than inspirational games and Cooper himself appears to be carrying an injury. However, I think a point raised elsewhere around his defence is worth considering. He has to be hidden in defence and tends to go high when he does get involved. I wish he had spent his off-seasons working on his defence rather than working on his boxing skills.If he were a more complete footballer then it would make setting the defensive structure easier and also bring the best out in others (Hunts) attack.

  • Adrian

    I don’t rate Frisby at all,..
    Apart from his woeful kicking in general play, he did show enthusiasm in trying to save a try, and setting up another.

    I reckon that if you talked privately to the Reds backs, they’d tell you just how exasperated they were with the forwards.

    The coach should be able to see this, and stop criticising the players who actually TRY, irrespective of how good they are

  • Andy

    Wallaby Watch – Isa Naserani. Good all round game. Can jump in the line out, quality with ball in hand, effective at the breakdown. Could be a great option at 6

    • Adrian


  • Chinese Dave

    We need to talk about Nick. No, not Nick Frisby, Nick Stiles.

    I know the Reds have many young players, but they keep playing some really dumb Rugby and have awful discipline, and at some point, the coach has to start taking responsibility. Instead, he plays stupid mind games with the colour of the jersey, criticises his players on television, blames the ref (see Waratahs game, looking back, maybe the Reds did deserve all those penalties eh?), throws mini-tantrums my daughter would be proud of in the box when bad stuff happens, and other than recruiting some really promising looking players, hasn’t really improved things over old Richard’s level.

    We need to talk about Nick.

    • AllyOz

      The reds attack coach in 2015 last year was a bloke named Steve Meehan who had some success with Bath and coached at Stade Francais and then at the Force before coming to the Reds. The Reds didn’t do anything spectacular when he was there but Richard Graham was head coach then. He left to go to Toulon and has now taken over at one of the Japanese Clubs. I wonder how he would have gone running the programme himself.

  • Huw Tindall

    Is peter grant the number 2 flyhalf in Australia?

  • Huw Tindall

    Is Peter Grant the number two flyhalf in Australia?

    • AllyOz

      I think he would have to be on form

  • Brisneyland Local

    Wow have just watched the game ten minutes ago. I thought rather than endure another depressing defeat I would do something positive this weekend, and so I took my children camping. Am glad I did.
    That was complete and utter dross.

    I think we have to call this for what it is. A coaching problem. If you cant win a game with the cattle this guy has in the paddock, then you suck the big one. The game plan sucks, our skills suck, our attitude sucks. We just cant deliver on the paddock. We have Brad Thorne on the coaching staff, along with George Smith, so the problem isnt in the mentoring and shaping.

    Yellow cards, lack of discipline are killing us. The fact that that has been the way all season, means the coach hasnt got a way of fixing it. Otherwise this shit would have been long gone.

    This is really pissing us off, particularly our fans. Again Qld Reds have hired a coach that appears to be unable to deliver. I dont think he has the undersanding and the EQ to motivate the team. I for one would give the reigns straight to Brad Thorn and say crack on, and deliver me a winning team.
    But Nick Stiles is becoming the new Woody Graham.

  • Graeme

    With the squad he has available, Nick Stiles has truly become the Richard Graham of Queensland rugby coaching.

Queensland Reds

Nic is a freelance journalist who first tried his hand writing for Green & Gold Rugby as a schoolboy. Five years on, Nic is our resident expert on Brisbane’s local rugby scene not named RugbyReg. In April 2018 Nic releases his first book, the official biography of Waisale Serevi entitled 'Waisale Serevi: The King of Sevens'.

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