After a finishing atop of the Super Rugby ladder, the Reds will strive to reach their first Super final in their 16-year history in what promises to be an enthralling encounter at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday evening. Join us from 7.30pm for our live Reds blog.
The Reds were a pillar of strength in a weakened Australian conference this season, and a dominant 13-3 record has been rewarded with a bye in the first week of finals, and home ground advantage against their New Zealand counterparts the Blues.
Coach Ewen McKenzie will no doubt have used the extra rest to freshen up his forward pack, who will be crucial in setting a platform for Queensland’s creative pivots Will Genia and Quade Cooper.
The fortnight break has allowed Digby Iaone, Anthony Faingaa and Beau Robinson back into the fray, although the Reds will be without Wallaby prop James Slipper.
A sluggish start off a bye week is simply not an option for the Reds in the pressure cooker of a semi-final, and it is worthwhile noting that after each of their regular season byes they have performed strongly, thrashing the Rebels 53-3 and grinding out a 17-16 against the Crusaders in what was a watershed moment for McKenzie’s emerging team.
Both of those wins were at their home fortress, Suncorp Stadium, and their 7-1 record at home also included a 37-31 win over Auckland in Round 13, and an expected crowd of over 50,000 could be a ‘16th man’ to get them over the line.
Their opponents beat an injury-ravaged Waratahs unit last Friday night and will fancy their chances against a team with minimal Super finals experience, and Australian five-eighth Cooper must shine on centre stage, ensuring early ball for a dangerous backline to get at the Blues’ defence.
It has all the makings of a classic, and in a first at The Roar we’ll be running two separate blogs – one for the Reds, and one for the Blues. Pick a team, or jump in for discussion on both sides from 7.30pm AEST on Saturday night.
Last Five: Blues 3, Reds 2
Overall: Blues 8, Reds 7, 1 draw
Betting: Reds $1.45, Blues $2.70