Reds magnificent, while Tahs play dumb

David Lord Columnist

By David Lord, David Lord is a Roar Expert

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    Radike Samo

    Reds player Radike Samo runs the ball during Super Rugby competition between the Queensland Reds and the Bulls from South Africa at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Saturday, April 16, 2011. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    The 30,000-plus spectators at Suncorp last night were constantly on their feet saluting the dynamic 80-minute displays of Queenslanders Will Genia, and Quade Cooper, as they combined to cut the defending Super champion Bulls down to size 39-30.

    We all know how brilliant both can be, but last night they raised the performance bar to an astonishing new height. And the men-in-red reacted warmly to the Pied Pipers.

    The Reds ran in six tries to three, and it was only the Bulls’ magnificent swarming defence that stopped the try-fest at half a dozen.

    But the scoreline was flattering to the Bulls.

    Their express winger Bjorn Basson scored a seemingly impossible try just before the break, taking the Bulls’ kick-off inside the Reds quarter on the full to touch down untouched. In over six decades watching rugby, I’ve never seen anything like it. Extraordinary.

    And in the shadow of full-time with the Reds in an unassailable position leading 39-23, and switched off, Basson chip-kicked and enjoyed a perfect bounce to dot down, again untouched.

    Basson was worth 14 points – a 39-16 Reds’ scoreline was more appropriate.

    That gave the Reds six wins on the trot this season, to equal their record set in 1996 at Super 10 level, when Tim Horan was skipper. Last night he was in the Fox commentary box.

    But this was also a record eighth successive win at Suncorp. It has become the Reds’ fortress as they await next week’s grudge-game of the tournament against arch-enemies the NSW Waratahs.

    In the second round, on February 26, the men-in-blue comprehensively stitched up the Reds 30-6 at the SFS. It was one-way traffic.

    The embarrassment was a wake-up call for the Reds, and they haven’t lost since – beating the Brumbies 31-25, Rebels 53-3, Cheetahs 41-8, Lions 30-25, and the previously unbeaten Stormers, at Newlands, 19-6.

    The success streak has been triggered by the Genia-Cooper combination. Once they started to fire, so did the team.

    In the same period, the Waratahs have been soundly thumped by the Crusaders 33-18, the lowly Cheetahs 23-3, and the Auckland Blues overnight at Eden Park 31-17.

    The Blues led 31-7 at the break, scoring five tries to one, but took the pedal off the metal in the second session to allow the Waratahs to salvage some pride.

    Not a lot, but some – which is a lot more than none.

    We know what’s right with the Reds – Will Genia and Quade Cooper.

    But what’s wrong with the Waratahs?

    They can’t keep hiding behind injured skipper Phil Waugh and utility back Berrick Barnes. That argument is a cop-out, it doesn’t hold any water.

    There’s no nice way to say it, but every time the Waratahs lose it’s because they played dumb, dumb, and dumber rugby.

    They lose their structure, their defence patterns, their support play, and their passion to win.

    And there’s nothing left in the tank.

    There were two incidents last night against the Blues, to emphasise the point.

    In the 52nd minute with the Blues leading 31-7 acting skipper Dean Mumm elected to shoot for a penalty goal, with the Waratahs having the momentum on attack, deep inside the Blues’ quarter.

    It was not only a dumb decision, greeted by the Eden Park faithful with derision, but Kurtley Beale missed the shot, to magnify the mistake.

    And with the last play of the game the Waratahs needed a length of the field try to pick up a bonus point for four tries and to finish within seven points, for another bonus point. Those two bonus points can be vital down the track.

    So what did replacement half Brendan McKibbin do? Grubber kicked, instead of running the ball, which ended up in touch. Full time, chance blown.

    Another dumb entry into the Waratahs’ burgeoning book of learning the basics.

    It’s those basics, along with missing pride and passion, that the Waratahs must take to Suncorp next Saturday night. It will be a game they have to win, at all costs, to stay in contention.

    Which means the Waratahs had better leave their dumb rugby element in the Eden Park shed, or cop a mother-and-father of a cricket score hiding from the Reds.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn?t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world?s great sporting spectacles

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    The Crowd Says (122)

    • April 17th 2011 @ 7:08am
      Moaman said | April 17th 2011 @ 7:08am | ! Report

      “But what’s wrong with the Waratahs?” Though I whole-heartedly agree about the 2 “dumb” decisions mentioned–particularly the kick at the death— I think it is important to mention that during the Reds’ wonderful run of six wins-they have only played the Stormers-of the Top 6 Contenders.If you compare how the Blues played in the first 40 minutes last night to their last run,prior to the bye,against the Cheetahs when they were decidedly flat I reckon you see a pattern emerging of teams tiring and needing the bye.It is an intense competition…a marathon not a 400 metres.It could be the Reds caught the Stormers on the slide and in any case,imho,they are yet to prove themselves.That said-I couldn’t help but be impressed by Genia & Cooper(whom I loathe)last night.Has Genia got himself fitter? He was sharp! Perhaps last year he was resting on his laurels a bit and has had a wakeup call? Cooper varied his play maturely and managed to keep himself out of harm’s way when required.The Bulls are a spent force,to me.They will still be a bugbear for some teams along the way but their great players are in decline and their tactics archaic.

      • April 17th 2011 @ 12:03pm
        Handles O'Love said | April 17th 2011 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

        “-they have only played the Stormers-of the Top 6 Contenders”…
        I would have thought the Bulls were top six contenders? If the game had gone the other way last night, then they would have the same record as the Waratahs and the Sharks. 10 days ago it was “the Reds haven’t played anybody yet”. Since then they have beaten this year’s front runners and last year’s champions, and you still can’t give a compliment without qualifying it. Bring on next Saturday. Is it too early to start the “We want 50” chant?

        “Cooper(whom I loathe)”
        Get used to him. Provided he doesn’t go to League, he will be the Wallaby number 10 for a long, long time.

        • Roar Guru

          April 17th 2011 @ 12:19pm
          stillmissit said | April 17th 2011 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

          Handles: I suspect that O’Connor is chasing his jersey in a controlled and determined manner. Either to take over from Quade before the World Cup or be the one to take over when he goes to league, AFL, Boxing etc etc

          • April 17th 2011 @ 1:40pm
            Cliff (Bishkek) said | April 17th 2011 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

            SMI – and when O’Connor does take over the No. 10 we will have another Giteau. When will people realise that O’Connor, although a magnificent and gifted rugby player, is not a No. 10. He cannot set up suports. Quade is streets in front of him.

            Sorry but if the selectors go with O’Connor rather than a back-up No. 10 – forget Wallaby development. O’Connor is a No. 12 – a definite No. 12 – and in my opinion a similar player to Horan.

        • April 17th 2011 @ 4:11pm
          Moaman said | April 17th 2011 @ 4:11pm | ! Report

          HANDLES O”LOVE Maybe I Didnt word that correctly; Bulls are currently 8th…8 points adrift of 6th and sinking slowly.Of course they are -contenders-I meant any of the current Top 6 who seem to have pulled away from the trailing pack.As for the rest of your critique…maybe you didnt read what I said.Or you read too much into it.imho.

      • April 17th 2011 @ 1:42pm
        Cliff (Bishkek) said | April 17th 2011 @ 1:42pm | ! Report

        Moaman — Oh for the beautiful rubbish and Bs that one must read on a Sunday morning. You sound like Growden on a bad day.

        • April 17th 2011 @ 4:17pm
          Moaman said | April 17th 2011 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

          Cliff–“Growden on a bad day.” I may well be; I WAS impressed by the Reds-and as I said I loved watching a team that relished playing the game we love;Am I not allowed to voice a reservation? I have read avidly all the Roar has coughed up on the subject Reds these past couple of weeks–and am squeaking in my corner that I,personally,would like to see them play the Blues or the Crusaders BEFORE I go and get an autographed copy of the Red Manifesto or whatever the programmes at Suncorp are called thesedays 😉

          • April 17th 2011 @ 5:06pm
            Cliff (Bishkek) said | April 17th 2011 @ 5:06pm | ! Report

            Moaman – point taken and understood – BUT – I also tend to think that the games that the REDS have played have been worthy of some of the comments – and I agree not hype.

            No team can monster teams like the Crusaders and their demolition of the Bulls was great rolling and hard delivered Rugby. Do I put the Reds up there with the Crusaders – no, but the Reds can beat the Crusaders when on song – but they are not the Crusaders. As for the Blues, well I am not impressed that they have the goods to go all the way either but they are up there and winning their games.

            The Reds beat the Bulls and the Crusaders beat the Bulls – how and by what difference makes no difference. But let us see how it pans out when it comes to the NZ sides.

            The Reds can do it – but they have to be on their game??? But as you state – it will be a TEST. In fact I think with the maturity of Cooper this year and Genia firing and the forward pack working as a unit they are a far improved side over 2010. But the Crusaders and the Blues will test them.

            • April 17th 2011 @ 10:56pm
              Moaman said | April 17th 2011 @ 10:56pm | ! Report

              Just got home CLIFF;scrolled through the messages and returned to yours with respect.Our conversation COULD have degenerated into a Bayboy v Peter K/Wallnut type curtain-raiser to SBW’s next bout-but no!! We have been rational and scrupulous in avoiding polemic,diatribe and plain,common or garden variety bs.I salute you,Sir!

              Yes,The Reds are damned exciting at the moment and yes-they stand head n shoulders above the hoi-polloi of the Aussie Conference to date.Will they receive their just rewards when higher honours are dished out come 3N and WC? (or go the way of the Breakers at the NBL Prize-giving and languish unrecognised?) More immediately,will they continue to impress and amaze and entertain? Meanwhile the Crusaders are a threat.Little attention is given to the fact that they have been severely disrupted by a certain geological event and subsequently forced to play and train in small regional centres throughout the area.Theyappear to have overcome these hurdles and to be playing their own inimitable style with dash and no little enjoyment (a la the Reds) which makes them all the more watchable. The clash at Suncorp will be epic. Cheers mate 😉

              • April 18th 2011 @ 3:13pm
                Cliff (Bishkek) said | April 18th 2011 @ 3:13pm | ! Report

                Moaman,

                Now we are awake in Bishkek – mate – yes we could have but then I would have had to read some of the continuing BS and sniping that is happening.

                The logic is up there with “the fairies are coming”. At times it is best to switch off.

                The Reds are currently No. 1, the Crusaders are No. 1 (equal), the Stormers are No. 3 and the Blues are No.4.

                Now as any Rugby pundit knows – “They have to put in and keep winning to Stay There”. But the hype is over the top. And the sniping of “have not played top teams” – what were the Stormers? And yes the Reds were flogged by the Waratahs? But the Crusaders were beaten last year – early. So judging game by game and making predictions is – a long bow as is making the statement about “no TOP TEAM YET”

                They are all contenders – AND – I do get pissed off with both sides of the argument – of hype and the No top team.

                Having put up with the Reds for the way they were for years – and NOW – I am happy. Can they win a Super Title – YES – but it will be hard and they will have to be on song.

                But can someone realy tell me – WHAT MAKES A TOP TEAM IN SUPER RUGBY. I thought that they all started equal at the start of each year – and then there were rankings of who are the favourites? Top means nothing until the COMPETITION IS OVER – IRRESPECTIVE OF PAST YEARS? Ash the Waratahs, Ask the Blues, Ask the Sharks – over the years – gone nowhere – in some years.

                Cheers

      • April 17th 2011 @ 9:07pm
        Justin said | April 17th 2011 @ 9:07pm | ! Report

        They were traveling back from SA – no mean feat to smash the Bulls with 6 tries. They are genuine contenders…

      • April 17th 2011 @ 9:29pm
        Geoff Brisbane said | April 17th 2011 @ 9:29pm | ! Report

        Hey moaman they played any of the NZ teams yet????

        • April 17th 2011 @ 10:57pm
          Moaman said | April 17th 2011 @ 10:57pm | ! Report

          Not that i can recall Geoff but substance-abuse in my younger years has rendered my memory suspect im afraid ;-(

    • April 17th 2011 @ 7:27am
      Who Needs Melon said | April 17th 2011 @ 7:27am | ! Report

      “In the 52nd minute with the Blues leading 31-7 acting skipper Dean Mumm elected to shoot for a penalty goal, with the Waratahs having the momentum on attack, deep inside the Blues’ quarter.”

      What was he thinking?!? Can anyone explain that? They were reasonably good in the scrum and line outs so… that just stunned me. It’s one thing to stupidly take a risk pushing a pass or whatever but this reminds me of that scene in Austin Powers when he decides to hold on 5 while playing blackjack – “I too like to live dangerously” – that will win the crowds back!

      • April 17th 2011 @ 7:32am
        Moaman said | April 17th 2011 @ 7:32am | ! Report

        It was bizarre WNM-but presumeably Mumm was supported in the decision by the senior players around him? They seem to take an age to decide these things nowadays….wait for a water-boy to run on instructions like good little robots. I noticed the Blues kicked in behind throughout the game-and at least twice to Afoa which was pretty interesting! What was your take on the scrum? And were you,too appalled that neither side appeared to consider shortening their lineout etc to mask their respective woes there? Someone should have said-about the lineout–“It IS shit,Austin” !!!

    • April 17th 2011 @ 7:39am
      Da said | April 17th 2011 @ 7:39am | ! Report

      Yeh it seems that the tahs lack systems to maintain momentum when certain personalities aren’t on the field. A team this expensive should be capable of more. With the salary cap coming the lack of passion in this state will give the tahs the underdog status that they need to create commitment and passion for the jersey. At the moment it seems that phil Waugh is the ‘keeper of the passion’. Also, where is plan b when it is required? I am baffled by selections, coaching and coach management at nsw. Maybe there needs to be two teams in nsw so that the ‘oodles of talent’ can be spread more thinly over teams structured around passion. For years it seems the tahs have had the first choice of bought talent. But they have been unable to buy enough commitment. And I am not blaming individual players. Passion is a team thing, a cultural thing and the structure for it comes from the top.

      • April 17th 2011 @ 7:47am
        Moaman said | April 17th 2011 @ 7:47am | ! Report

        I can only think that this lack of passion derives from the professional nature of the game now and that these blokes aren’t enjoying the game as much as we used to.Watching the Blues and Reds last night -you could see those guys were having fun! NSW look like a bunch of chumps to me with chips on their shoulders.

        • April 17th 2011 @ 1:47pm
          Cliff (Bishkek) said | April 17th 2011 @ 1:47pm | ! Report

          Moaman – I read in a comment on the blog last night – during the game — This person believes that there must be a deep seated internal problem at the Tahs and he directed his comments towards management. I am not a Tahs supporter, and as you gather from above a Reds supporter, but one must wonder why dumb Rugby thrives and the passion and heart seem to disappear from the players.

          For instance – Mumm as Captian – and this is a fellow that should never have been given a Wallaby jumper – he is gutless. And to a degree I believe Palu is a pussy – only good when the team is good. Also Robinson seems to be seagulling a lot lately but I might be mistaken .

          It is a mystery and only the Tahs – management and players can answer it.

          • April 17th 2011 @ 8:50pm
            cm said | April 17th 2011 @ 8:50pm | ! Report

            Mate, being a former Sydney-sider with no local S15 team in Adelaide, I still follow the blues. But I agree with everything you’ve said.

            If there is any heart in the side, it was on display last night through Drew Mitchell – ex Qld, ex WA. In other words, it was his sheer professionalism on display. No one else seemed ot have much.

            • April 17th 2011 @ 9:11pm
              jameswm said | April 17th 2011 @ 9:11pm | ! Report

              Harsh on Ben Robbo. I thought he was strong.

              • April 18th 2011 @ 3:16pm
                Cliff (Bishkek) said | April 18th 2011 @ 3:16pm | ! Report

                Maybe a bit strong – but he is not up to his normal – and I am sick and tired of Aussie Pigs seagulling rather than contesting the breakdown. Far to many do not do the hard yards

    • April 17th 2011 @ 8:14am
      Da said | April 17th 2011 @ 8:14am | ! Report

      Moa that’s my point exactly the reds are making money but that’s not the reason that they are fighting so fiercely and having so much fun. There is something else going on for the reds and rebels. The tahs have a long tradition of entitlement and talented losing. It could be different. One reason the culture is so hard to adjust may be because it reaches back over a century. Another reason may be the recalcitrance of the tahs board. Or maybe it’s just a small pampered team in a big city that doesn’t recognize them in streets that are full of nrl and afl hype.

      • April 17th 2011 @ 12:47pm
        Red Rooster said | April 17th 2011 @ 12:47pm | ! Report

        The QRU is as old as the NSWRU – so the culture issues should be inhibiting both

    • April 17th 2011 @ 8:41am
      Da said | April 17th 2011 @ 8:41am | ! Report

      My comments above concern team culture and systems at the tahs. These are things that individual players can hardly influence. There have been numerous examples of massive commitment from individual players this year – barnes Mitchell Beale spring to mind. But there have been many others -Waugh leading the way. But flashes of passion and individual commitment are not enough. The tahs need ‘systems’ and systems come from the top.

    • Roar Guru

      April 17th 2011 @ 10:13am
      stillmissit said | April 17th 2011 @ 10:13am | ! Report

      My thoughts about the difference is really to do with attitude. The Reds have been in the toilet for a long time and now they are out of it they do not want to go back there. This fear factor combined with Ewan’s defence structures have given the Reds the platform to build a strong attacking team all round. Great to watch.

      The Waratahs have great personal belief in their abilities on the pitch but this is at an individual level. The commitment to the team and the support of their fellow players is really only skin deep. This means that if they start off well against a weaker team they can get on top and bully them without taking much personal risk. When they come up against a strong and committed team, like all bullies they drop their pants. I have no idea what to do about this and Phil Waugh and TPN (who should have not played last night) are the only forwards who naturally want to take it to any team. The rest will stand up if they feel good but will go missing if the job gets hard.

      How many times do we have to say it to the Tahs – lose the breakdown and lose the game.

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