At last, the penny has dropped for the Reds as finals approach
Will Genia training with the Queensland Reds AAP Image/Dan Peled
When the half-time siren sounded at Suncorp yesterday, with the Chiefs leading 22-8 and cruising, the Reds looked as though their 2012 campaign was shot to bits.
Only teenage open-side flanker Liam Gill was on fire, the rest of the Reds hadn’t turned up to play and Will Genia was meekly handing over his Wallaby jumper to Rebels half-back Nick Phipps.
They had missed 20 tackles to 7, been pinned in their quarter for over four minutes, had only 46 percent possession, and 33 percent territory. Shot to bits alright.
But in the space of nine incredible minutes, the Reds were not only back on track and in command, but Genia was back to his electrifying best.
If the Reds were thoroughbreds they would have been automatically swabbed, the form reversal was so dramatic and swift.
Ben Lucas scored in first half extra-time, Scott Higginbotham followed suit from the second half kick-off, Genia ran 60 metres untouched for a sensational solo try, and Saia Fainga’a burrowed under the Chief’s defence.
Mike Harris converted all four tries and the Reds were in the lead 36-22.
Just nine precious minutes worth of campaign-saving rugby.
When the final siren blared, a season record crowd of 36,479 had been treated to champagne rugby from both sides as the Chiefs had piled on 19 points from three tries in the first half – in just eight minutes.
The 47 points in just 21 minutes was a big bonus to celebrate Mother’s Day, and the Reds were home victorious 42-27 in a nine-try-fest.
The win moved the defending champion Reds into ninth spot on the ladder and bridged the gap to eight points behind the Brumbies at the top of the Australian Conference with six rounds to play.
In two weeks the Brumbies and Reds clash at Canberra Stadium, and more than likely that will decide the top Australian side to automatically contest the play-offs.
The loser will be in the melting pot to qualify among the top three on points from any Conference, outside the three winners.
That nine-minute burst yesterday begs the question where have the Reds been hiding all tournament? The only sane answer is they were so complacent after capturing their first Super title last year, they only had to turn up to do it again this season.
It took until the close loss to the Crusaders last week, the 11th of competirion, for the penny to drop to knuckle down to the job. And even then it took an entire half yesterday to do just that.
It was well worth the wait to watch.
But there’s still a long way to go and despite the fabulous win, the Reds are well behind in the title-seeking pecking order to the Bulls, Chiefs, and Stormers when it comes to consistency.
They are the top three heading the points difference – for and against – with the Bulls plus 108, Chiefs plus 77, and Stormers plus 68. The Reds are minus 40.
Maybe that will change if Quade Cooper makes his long-awaited return from knee surgery for the Brumbies game. The highesh paid water boy in the tournament hasn’t played since the 2011 Rugby World Cup, and there’s no argument his combination with Genia is something special.
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