Reds fire up for Super Rugby final rematch

By Jim Morton,

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32 Have your say

    Reds coach Ewen McKenzie wants Queensland to strike a blow for the much-maligned Australian conference by upsetting the vengeance-seeking Crusaders in Sunday’s Super Rugby grand final rematch.

    Australia is facing the highly likely prospect of suppling just one side to the six-team play-offs as the Brumbies are the only franchise in touch with the New Zealand and South African pace-setters.

    Most pundits have written off local teams as legitimate title contenders with a lack of playing depth across the country, as well as the Wallabies’ extra long 2011 campaign, identified as reasons for disappointing results.

    But McKenzie said the Reds – sitting third in the national conference, six points behind the Brumbies (31) and 14 behind the Chiefs (39) – would relish the chance to change opinions in Christchurch.

    “As much as the Australian conference is being criticised by people around the place, it would be nice for us, from an Australian conference point of view, to make a dent in the Kiwi teams’ aspirations and also promote (Australian) fortunes,” he told AAP.

    “The (23-11 victory over the Blues) in Eden Park was important and, if we could jag a win in Christchurch and then take on the Chiefs, we can make a big indent on the competition.

    “People have consigned us to history already so we’re looking forward to having a say about that.”

    McKenzie felt Queensland “turned the corner” following last Friday’s drought-breaking win at Eden Park but he knows Sunday’s clash with the resurgent Crusaders, third in the Kiwi conference on 33 points, is a major litmus test.

    “It makes this game very important,” he said. “A win here for either side makes a difference, and we’ve got the Chiefs the week after.

    “The good thing for us is we’ve got a good record against both these teams.”

    Queensland have won their past three fixtures against the Crusaders, including an 18-13 triumph in last year’s decider, plus two trials, but all were in Queensland.

    Crusaders prop Ben Franks has spoken about the grief of being on the receiving end of the Suncorp Stadium faithful following the 2011 final defeat, and being stirred up to exact revenge.

    It’s a feeling McKenzie knows well after watching the Crusaders celebrate three finals wins over sides he’s been associated with in 2000, 2005 and 2008.

    “I’ve done that three times against them so I don’t feel any sympathy,” he said. “We’ve had a good rivalry and it should be an exciting game.”

    McKenzie will name his team on Thursday morning with Wallabies hooker Saia Faingaa set to return from an ankle injury on the bench, while his twin Anthony might be promoted to start in the centres opposite the red-hot Robbie Fruean.

    “We haven’t got all our players back yet but you can certainly feel the mood lifting in the group,” he said. “We’ve bottomed out and we’re coming back up again – that’s what it feels like.”

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (32)

    • May 3rd 2012 @ 5:03am
      tacksharp said | May 3rd 2012 @ 5:03am | ! Report

      Sorry, QL, beating the Blues this year was no great feat or turning point. They are rubbish. But yes, if you beat the Saders or the Chiefs you will have proved something.

      Although I am an avid Saders man, I am not enjoying the Oz conferences doing poorly, and noone enjoys seeing quality players injured.

      Good luck this weekend – you’re going to need it. Let’s hope it doesn’t go down to a ref’s poor decision.

      • May 3rd 2012 @ 9:39am
        Deez said | May 3rd 2012 @ 9:39am | ! Report

        Act of beating the Blues may not be a feat this year, but at least the attack is starting to look better coordinated. Add a bit of confidence on top and some of last year’s attack might start to come back (even without Quade).

        Tips for Ewen:
        1) bring A Faingaa on at 13, move Digby to 11 and have Rocket Rod come off the bench. Will need Ant’s hard hits on Fruen if you want a chance.
        2) Provided they’re all healthy, keep your quick back row (Robinson, Gill, Higginbotham). Can have Samo on the bench if you want, but I have a feeling this will be a game played at speed.
        3) Start Holmes for Daley. As much as I dig Daley, Holmes is playing better right now and deserves a start with Slipper.

        Looking forward to Sunday (head says Saders, heart says Reds!)

        • May 3rd 2012 @ 12:05pm
          rl said | May 3rd 2012 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

          Link must have been reading Deez, only thing he couldn’t do was get Beau to recover from inury (Schatz into the backrow, Samo on the bench with Eddie Quirk)

          • May 3rd 2012 @ 4:35pm
            Jutsy said | May 3rd 2012 @ 4:35pm | ! Report

            Cant believe link has finally made the changes we’ve all been suggesting for weeks.
            And I just saw that foley has dropped mumm for S. timani!
            I’m pinching myself thinking its a dream lol

    • May 3rd 2012 @ 9:29am
      johnno42 said | May 3rd 2012 @ 9:29am | ! Report

      “the Brumbies are the only franchise in touch with the New Zealand and South African pace-setters.”
      and lets be honest here Jim, the only reason the brumbies are there is because the top side from each country is guaranteed a final spot. if it were on points, aussie is down the porcelain convenience.

      • May 3rd 2012 @ 10:03am
        Justin said | May 3rd 2012 @ 10:03am | ! Report

        Well the Brumbies are only 2 points behind the Crusaders…

        • May 3rd 2012 @ 10:32am
          Lippy said | May 3rd 2012 @ 10:32am | ! Report

          That they are but they are in 6th place

          • May 3rd 2012 @ 6:58pm
            Justin said | May 3rd 2012 @ 6:58pm | ! Report

            Brumbies are on top of their conference 😉

            • May 4th 2012 @ 3:44am
              Geoff Brisbane now California said | May 4th 2012 @ 3:44am | ! Report

              And so are the other 5 teams if they were in that Conference Justin

            • May 4th 2012 @ 3:45am
              Geoff Brisbane now California said | May 4th 2012 @ 3:45am | ! Report

              Not their fault at this stupid and almost league like set up. NRL setup has it you only play some teams twice.

    • May 3rd 2012 @ 9:48am
      formeropenside said | May 3rd 2012 @ 9:48am | ! Report

      Reds named – Beau and Daley out injured, Holmes to start at 1. Ant Faingaa at 13 marking Fruen will hopefully stiffen the backline defence.

      1. Greg Holmes
      2. James Hanson
      3. James Slipper
      4. Rob Simmons
      5. James Horwill (c)
      6. Jake Schatz
      7. Liam Gill
      8. Scott Higginbotham

      9. Will Genia (vc)
      10. Ben Lucas
      11. Digby Ioane
      12. Mike Harris
      13. Anthony Faingaa
      14. Dom Shipperley
      15. Luke Morahan

      16. Saia Faingaa
      17. Albert Anae
      18. Adam Wallace-Harrison
      19. Radike Samo
      20. Eddie Quirk
      21. Nick Frisby
      22. Rod Davies

      Albert Anae is the reserve prop, with Guy Shepherdson either injured or overlooked.

      • May 3rd 2012 @ 10:04am
        Justin said | May 3rd 2012 @ 10:04am | ! Report

        Is Anae a prop or hooker? Reds slowly getting a decent defensive unit on the park.

        • May 3rd 2012 @ 10:15am
          formeropenside said | May 3rd 2012 @ 10:15am | ! Report

          Anae is both.

        • May 3rd 2012 @ 10:18am
          Harry said | May 3rd 2012 @ 10:18am | ! Report

          Anae can play both hooker and loosehead. Holmes can go over to tighthead if Slipper injured.
          Best 22 we can select IMO (with Beau and Daley injured, though I’d start with Holmes at loosie anyway).
          Possible weak link is Morahan at 15, he needs to kick better and improve his defence – it was quite Quadelike against the Stormers.
          Like many, head says the Saders but heart says the Reds, and we are not without hope. Particularly if Harris can get his goal kicking perfect again, and Bryce keeps McCaw and the gang onside.

      • May 3rd 2012 @ 11:27am
        Rhino said | May 3rd 2012 @ 11:27am | ! Report

        Beau is a loss as it appeared he was coming back into form. Samo seems to go better against NZ teams so might have put him as starter in front of Schatz but coin-toss decision. Let’s hope Digby and Shipperley get some good ball and space and Harris doesn’t miss too many shots at goal. Is it me or has he lost some serious length on his goalkicks?

        • May 4th 2012 @ 4:32pm
          BROOKE48 said | May 4th 2012 @ 4:32pm | ! Report

          rhino,i agree seems to have gone backwards since kicking coach fowler departed.

    • May 3rd 2012 @ 10:14am
      nickoldschool said | May 3rd 2012 @ 10:14am | ! Report

      The big difference in last w-e’s performance for the Reds was their back row: Robinson, Gill and Higginbotham had a great game in defence and it clearly shows that 3 flankers can do the job (that Samo didnt do before should i say). Robinson’s out but reckon Schatz is good alternative too. Will it be enough? probaly not but the battle at the breakdown between these guys and the Todds, Reads and maybe McCaw will be great to watch.

      • May 3rd 2012 @ 6:13pm
        Pillock said | May 3rd 2012 @ 6:13pm | ! Report

        Some quality loose forwards in that lot but for mine Read & McCaw are a class above the others. Hopefully the Reds backrow really step up and will also need the backs to play a lot better, the Crusaders has the best backline in the S15 comp even with Dagg not in his best form.
        If the Reds go back to their Sth African tour form it will be a cricket score.

        • May 3rd 2012 @ 6:42pm
          nickoldschool said | May 3rd 2012 @ 6:42pm | ! Report

          Yes I agree, Read has probably been the most consistent n8 so far in this comp’. McCaw is probably not at his best yet though so it will be interesting especially if Gill and Higginbotham play like they did v the Blues. But Harris-Faingaa v Carter-Fruean in the midfield is a scary thought! Match is sold out.

          • May 3rd 2012 @ 7:02pm
            Justin said | May 3rd 2012 @ 7:02pm | ! Report

            Nick Carter is well off his best and looked a shadow of the best 10 I have seen against NSW. He was pretty ordinary actually.

            • May 3rd 2012 @ 7:15pm
              nickoldschool said | May 3rd 2012 @ 7:15pm | ! Report

              Yes, thats true, he’s still a bit rusty and his passing game is not what it used to be but I reckon its just a question of time. Its true that his passes dont always find someone but i think one more week at training will make a difference.

              • May 3rd 2012 @ 7:27pm
                Justin said | May 3rd 2012 @ 7:27pm | ! Report

                He just looks hesitant right now and laboured. He’ll be sharp when it matters – he will need to be for the Saders to win IMO.

        • May 3rd 2012 @ 7:03pm
          Justin said | May 3rd 2012 @ 7:03pm | ! Report

          Pillock how do you rate the Chiefs and Brumbies back lines in comparison to the Saders?

          • Roar Guru

            May 3rd 2012 @ 9:00pm
            Sam Taulelei said | May 3rd 2012 @ 9:00pm | ! Report


            Individually the Crusaders backs compete well against the Brumbies and Chiefs in terms of strikepower however as a unit I rate them both above the Crusaders.

            I thought the Saders backs looked quite pedestrian against the Tahs and it was only Fruean’s power running and the odd incursion from Dagg that really threatened but there was a lack of rhythm and precision which is surprising at the halfway stage of the season.

            Look at how the Highlanders came back against the Cheetahs in that last 30 minutes with the way they ran the ball and the Saders have never looked that good all season.

            In terms of the NZ conference, I’d rate in order the Hurricanes, Chiefs, Highlanders, Crusaders and Blues in terms of backline attacking prowess.

            • May 3rd 2012 @ 9:14pm
              Justin said | May 3rd 2012 @ 9:14pm | ! Report

              That sounds a pretty fair summation Sam. Ive seen bits of all of those teams. The Chiefs I would rely on more than the others, the Canes can strike from anywhere and the Highlanders play up tempo. Havent seen much of the Saders but Sunday didnt impress me much. Reality was just woeful defence from Carter let Fruen have a party.

              In AUS its the Brumbies and daylight. Larkham has his signature all over this Brumbies team and Lilo has been outstanding with straight running, taking the ball on the tackle line and brilliant passing both long and in contact.

              • May 3rd 2012 @ 11:33pm
                Wal the Hooker said | May 3rd 2012 @ 11:33pm | ! Report

                I was at the game on Sunday Tahs v Saders and thought the Saders were pedestrian all round. Agree with Sam I think the Chiefs and Brumbies are chiming much better. The Canes and Highlanders have shown some really fantastic back play.

                On Sunday I actually said to my partner I reckon on the form the Saders were playing the Chiefs would beat them. I just didn’t see that intensity they normally have for the full 80, yet I’m seeing this in the Chiefs this year. They’re hungry and unlike years past seem to be doing everything right as a team.

                Carter looks like he’s still injured and not confident, but you can never write them off I guess!

    • May 4th 2012 @ 3:51am
      kingplaymaker said | May 4th 2012 @ 3:51am | ! Report

      Does anyone know when any of the injured Reds players are expected to return?

      • May 4th 2012 @ 9:41am
        Harry said | May 4th 2012 @ 9:41am | ! Report

        Most of them are back now out of whose expected back – only one missing is Quade, who of course hurt his knee playing touch footy with mates a few weeks back.
        Gone for the season – Taps, Lance, Sam Lane.
        Missing just this week – Ben Daley, Beau.
        ALl in all, not too bad.

        • May 4th 2012 @ 1:39pm
          bill said | May 4th 2012 @ 1:39pm | ! Report

          Any idea about if/when Peter Hynes might be back?

          I didn’t realise Tap’s collarbone meant gone for the season. A real shame.

    • May 4th 2012 @ 3:55am
      Geoff Brisbane now California said | May 4th 2012 @ 3:55am | ! Report

      Never write off the Saders because they will realise their game v Tahs was pretty average from their standards and yet they still win and that is what sets champion teams a part from others.Even when they under perform they still have that uncanny ability to get across theline. Reds may start out hard and fast but will eventually fall by the way. Nonu showed how to curtail Ioanes influence by putting him on his backside so I reckon Fruen and Carter will control and open up the mid field for Dagg etc to carve up. Earlier roarer stated the ref could be the difference, I reckon that has been everyones excuse across the board, which by the way does need to be looked at.

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