Reds vs Sharks: Super Rugby finals live scores, blog
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Will Genia hits the line for the Queensland Reds (Image: Steve Bell / White Devil Images)
The Super Rugby finals are underway and the Reds start their campaign by hosting the Sharks at Suncorp tonight. Join us from 7.30pm AEST for live scores and commentary.
Coming into this match the Reds have been playing their best rugby of the season. That is a claim most Sharks fans would make as well. Given recent form we have enough reason to expect a high quality finals match tonight.
Let’s have a quick look at both sides recent form since the international break to familiarise ourselves with what could be on offer:
- Beat NSW by 16
- Beat Highlanders by 6 (defended their line to the death to win
- Beat Rebels by 15
- Beat Cheetahs by 19
- Beat Bulls by 22
Scoring points hasn’t been a big issue for either side since they came back from the break.
The Reds’ victory against the Waratahs last week is a standout performance for them in a match-up that usually produces little scoring.
Couple that with the fact they’ve put 30 on the board twice in their three matches back and you would have to say they are hitting their straps.
The only time they were stifled was against the Highlanders. While they may have deserved to be chasing that match from behind, a standout feature was defending a slender lead to save their season near full-time.
Looking at the Sharks performances I’d be tempted to say they are burning even hotter than the Reds now. Beating the Sharks by 22 points is no mean feat.
It was in Durban and that would have helped but I don’t think anyone would have picked the Sharks by 20-plus and been prepared to put much money behind it. You just don’t see the Bulls blown out like that too often.
They did what they had to do last week against the Cheetahs in a match that only got going in the second half.
They were perhaps a little complacent knowing they couldn’t top their conference and had an eye on this week. It wasn’t an indicator of a drop in form.
There are a couple of factors on each side of this match that could impact scoring: injured playmakers.
The Reds will be missing Quade Cooper and the Sharks Pat Lambie and Frans Steyn. Ben Lucas will fill Cooper’s spot. Frederic Michalak and Tim Whitehead fill in for Lambie and Steyn.
The loss of Cooper will be a definitive impact on the Reds, but it will probably be evened out by the fact the Sharks will be trying to integrate two new players in those important roles.
The Reds went through a slump earlier in the season while Cooper was still recovering from his knee injury, but the losses were more because of the attrition of the second, third and fourth choices at that position as well. Lucas has played quite well in the 10 jersey when required this year.
Michalak is an experienced campaigner now and while not as swift and tricky as in his earlier days will understand what is required to keep the team moving and playing to the team’s plan.
An interesting selection from either side, the Reds have Ben Tapaui back on the bench and the Sharks have picked the impressive Willem Alberts in the second row for this clash.
Alberts has been having somewhat of a break-out season this year, cementing himself as one of the best ball running loose forwards in the game.
Positioning him in the second row is interesting and means Keegan Daniel, Marcell Coetzee and Ryan Kankowski all fit in the starting side.
Those players are going to take some real tackling. Ice packs required for the Reds shoulders come Sunday, no matter the outcome.
The return of Tapaui on the pine is great for the Reds, he can’t be back to full match fitness yet, but he will add some real spark and line breaking ability later in the match as the opposition begin to tire.
Ewen McKenzie would be smart to make sure he gets on around the 60th minute to allow time for him to make his presence felt.
Should Tapaui play well, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for him to get the nod to join the Wallabies training squad as another long-term option in a weak position.
Everything is poised for a fantastic match tonight. The weather is looking like it will stay fine. So hopefully we see two teams throwing themselves into it! Don’t forget to join us here from 7.30pm AEST for updates, scores and a chance to voice your opinion!
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