Chiefs down Reds in Super Rugby trial

By Jim Morton,

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17 Have your say

    The Queensland Reds suffered their first trial loss in three years on Friday night – falling 20-8 to the Super Rugby champion Chiefs – but there were some rewards on the Sunshine Coast.

    Halfback Ben Lucas and flanker Ed Quirk – sized up to fill the boots of Will Genia and Scott Higginbotham for round one – were among the most impressive players at Stockland Stadium as the Chiefs came from 8-0 down to win.

    And Queensland’s oft-maligned scrum were dominant for the first hour as their starting pack dictated terms in the set-piece.

    But without their big three of Wallabies skipper James Horwill, general Genia and pro-boxing playmaker Quade Cooper, the Reds struggled running into the wind as the Chiefs put on a 20-point second-half burst in front of 4692 fans.

    All Blacks five-eighth Aaron Cruden showed he’d lost none of his zip from 2012 and combined brilliantly with his backline while the home side were let down by poor handling under pressure.

    The Reds have lost only one pre-season game under Ewen McKenzie – back in 2010 against the Western Force in Perth – and they were well in the game at 10-8 down with 10 minutes left.

    But an Albert Anae mid-way fumble – one of many running into the wind – was the spark for a counter-attacking raid finished by Augustine Pulu.

    Winger Aseli Tikoirotuma then sealed the result in the dying minutes.

    There was no shortage of feeling between the 2011 and 2012 champions, highlighted by nasty scuffle on the ground between the team’s littlest men in Ben Lucas and Aaron Cruden.

    The Reds had the wind at the backs in the first half but it was their set-piece dominance which laid the foundations for an 8-0 lead at the main break.

    Queensland have boasted one of the best lineouts in the competition in recent seasons but it was their scrum which led the way.

    But it took the home side until the 38th minute before Liam Gill, who pick and drove for two five-pointers in last week’s trial win against the Blues, crossed for the opener, again from close range.

    Skipper James Slipper produced the biggest play of the first half with the last – producing a huge front-on tackle on Sam Cane to save a certain try.

    Despite the loss, Slipper ended the match in laughter when told Cooper was victorious in his bout against Barry Dunnett – thanks to a first-round knockout.

    “Is that a joke,” he asked. “That’s a bit of a surprise.”

    Both sides were relieved all their players came through unscathed, while McKenzie rated the highly physical clash a fine tune-up for Saturday week’s opening-round clash against the Brumbies in Canberra.

    “We would have loved to have won it on the scoreboard but there was some good bits and pieces out there,” he said.

    “To go into the Brumbies game with that type of game was good.”

    On top of the scrum dominance, the Reds director of coaching was also heartened by Quirk’s continued rise and the confidence of Lucas, who produced a second-half goalline try-saver on burly No.8 Fritz Lee.

    “We got some clarity about a few things (selection wise),” McKenzie said.

    “I was really pleased with the way (Quirk) has gone to another level this pre-season. That back-row combination (with Gill and Jake Schatz) worked really well.

    “The ball control was disappointing – that’s what cost us on the scoreboard.

    “We had a lot of possession but we didn’t control the ball well.”

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    The Crowd Says (17)

    • Roar Guru

      February 9th 2013 @ 12:38pm
      El Gamba said | February 9th 2013 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

      A few thoughts from the sideline…

      – it was a game of two halves (truly) with the wind advantage dictating the team on the front foot. In the first half the reds dominated possession and territory and the Chiefs gave away a number of penalties to keep the reds momentum stuttering. A number of these penalties were right in front which the reds elected to take the line out, in the spirit of a trial, to test patterns. The Chief’s try line defence then managed to keep the reds out and the scoreboard pressure did not eventuate. Similarly in the second half the chiefs had the run of territory and possession. Although perhaps not as much as the reds in the first half, they looked far more dangerous with line breaks and counter attacks.

      – Ed Quirk looked great in the first half. Combative and involved he looks the goods to help step in to Higginbotham’s shoes.

      – the reds, like the wallabies, had structure and parity in the forwards, where they really looked second to the chiefs, like the wallabies to the all blacks, was, let’s call it, x-factor in the backs. The chiefs looked dangerous on every turn over, the reds were predictable on phase play. Ioane was the only option in the first half and the defence had him easily covered as the only option (whatever happened to dummy runners? Slight of hand? Angles? Etc etc). F’sautia similarly looked dangerous in the second half, otherwise it appeared that the Chiefs were intercepting and deciphering the smoke signals sent by Richard “what is his role again” Graham from in the dead ball area (his beard did nothing to hide him him form this force supporter!) The reds, and the wallabies for that matter, desperately need QC and WG to ask some questions of the defence.

      All in all, perhaps a pass mark against a good Chiefs side but only based upon potential. They need QC, F’sautia, Ioane creating.

      A final thought, whatever happened to our back line play of old? Inventiveness and smarts got us to the best in the world, it has sadly been lacking in Australian rugby of late and based upon last night, outside of ‘potential’ we are behind the kiwi’s by a far way.

    • February 9th 2013 @ 2:20pm
      bob said | February 9th 2013 @ 2:20pm | ! Report

      If deans had sent the boys back to their state sides in better shape we might have won that

      • February 9th 2013 @ 7:31pm
        El gamba said | February 9th 2013 @ 7:31pm | ! Report

        You’re kidding right? The difference in the sides had nothing to do with deans, it had everything to do with the fact that the reds ran out of ideas in attack early. Graham clearly had too much input.

        • February 9th 2013 @ 8:32pm
          Hightackle said | February 9th 2013 @ 8:32pm | ! Report

          I wish they were kidding.

    • February 9th 2013 @ 10:51pm
      Flipper said | February 9th 2013 @ 10:51pm | ! Report

      Did jono owen play for the reds? If so, how was his game?

    • February 10th 2013 @ 1:29am
      Malo said | February 10th 2013 @ 1:29am | ! Report

      A long season awaits

    • February 10th 2013 @ 3:22am
      Hightackle said | February 10th 2013 @ 3:22am | ! Report

      Chiefs are the best team in the world!!

      • February 10th 2013 @ 3:10pm
        winston said | February 10th 2013 @ 3:10pm | ! Report

        I thought england were?

        • February 10th 2013 @ 4:24pm
          Hightackle said | February 10th 2013 @ 4:24pm | ! Report

          England the best team in the world?
          Dont be silly Winston.
          NZ are the best international team at the mo and thats pretty obvious.
          I agree that England are a very good team on the rise but lets not get carried away.
          Oh and watchout Winston, thinking England are as good, as you obviously do, will cause people to get all sarcastic and narky.

          • February 10th 2013 @ 7:55pm
            winston said | February 10th 2013 @ 7:55pm | ! Report

            haha spot on i was being sarcastic,
            You’ve changed your tune mate. I only said that because you were talking them up a few weeks ago from that win.

            • February 10th 2013 @ 8:57pm
              Hightackle said | February 10th 2013 @ 8:57pm | ! Report

              ABs are still the best but its getting tight for 2nd 3rd 4th and 5th.
              You must agree that Eng are looking like a good side and could go top 3 in 2012.
              Its not an outrageous call considering they are 4th and improving game by game.
              I still think that in 2015 they will be favs. To me thats not that crazy considering that they were 4th favs in 2011 and they are far better now and its in Eng.
              Im just stirring about the Chiefs, theyre my team but Im actually picking the Canes for the title.

              • February 11th 2013 @ 4:17pm
                winston said | February 11th 2013 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

                They’ll still be the best in 2015. England if they keep developing could will be a force for sure, and that will be great for Rugby and the WC.

                I’m a chief’s fan too. It will be interesting to see how they kick on with SBW. If Kahui stays fit for the season it should fill the gap. That’s a big if though. The Canes is a brave call. I can’t really see a weak NZ team this year. The blues should turn around with SJK coaching. HIghlanders will be beter. The saders will be the saders. The Canes will look to be more consistant with their ability to play exciting score from anywhere rugby.

                With the chiefs I reckon the coaching and culture change last year is what really turned them around.
                Hopefully they will kickon.

    • February 10th 2013 @ 2:22pm
      Jonny Boy Jnr said | February 10th 2013 @ 2:22pm | ! Report

      These two teams at full strength head to head would be the best in the comp.

      Would love to how Genia, Cooper, CfS would go against Cruden, Kahui and co!

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