Reds skipper James Horwill best described his side’s desperate 20-13 Super Rugby win over the Brumbies at Suncorp last night. “It wasn’t pretty”. It sure wasn’t.
In fact, it wasn’t even rugby. An AFL game broke out instead.
The Reds kicked 42 times, the Brumbies 28, making 70 kicks in 80 minutes, most of them aimless nonsense.
No time for rugby.
William Webb Ellis would be turning in his grave. He picked up a soccer ball in 1823 and ran with it to create rugby, being sick and tired of kicking it.
To put the Suncorp kickathon in perspective this Easter weekend:
* The Chiefs-Force clash at NIB Stadium saw 31 kicks – Force 18, Chiefs 13.
* The Rebels-Blues game at AAMI Park 26 – Rebels 16, Blues 10.
* And the Hurricanes-Sharks at Yarrow Stadium just 17 – Hurricanes 13, Sharks 4.
Where were the most tries scored?
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out the latter with the Hurricanes crossing for six, the Sharks twice – just 17 kicks and eight tries. Now we’re talking rugby.
But the Suncorp game was the most important from the Australian Conference point of view. The Reds had never beaten the Brumbies at the venue, and a fourth successive loss would have been devastating for the reigning premiers.
The faithful were out in force in a sea of red, all 31,479 of them. And they were in fine voice, trying so hard to lift their lethargic side.
Somehow the Reds led 17-0 until the 56th minute when Brumbies goal-kicker Christian Lealiifano at last troubled the scorers with a penalty.
And the main reason why the Brumbies were behind was the eventual turnover count of 27, nearly twice the Reds. And that stat didn’t include the many dropped, and wayward passes.
In the end, the Reds had to hang on like grim death to secure the win as the Brumbies raised the bar. But all too late.
For the Reds, Wallaby locks James Horwill and Rob Simmons are still way short of their best. Half Will Genia even more so. On his day he is the best number 9 in the world. That day hasn’t arrived this season as he was caught in possession so many times last night and his delivery was ponderous.
But debutant fly-half Sam Lane wasn’t overawed. The 21-year-old son of former Wallaby and former Wallaby assistant coach Tim Lane was busy and landed four of his six shots at goal.
The Reds’ best? Scott Higginbotham who scored both tries, but mighty lucky with the first, the two flankers Liam Gill and Beau Robinson, and the props James Skipper, and Ben Daley.
For the Brumbies, half Nick White was outstanding, closely followed by skipper Ben Mowen, Stephen Moore, Sam Carter, and full back Jesse Mogg.
And at last praise for the referee Steve Walsh. Had he been pedantic like most of his peers we wouldn’t have seen any rugby at all.
He used his commonsense, so what rugby we did see was attributable to him.
Forget the game. And that goes for both coaches Ewen McKenzie (Reds), and the Brumbies Jake White. Both got it wrong on the night.
Let’s have more ball in hand.