Reds aim to end Highlanders hoodoo


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    Ewen McKenzie will break a Super Rugby coaching record on Good Friday but he’s more intent on ticking the one box left unchecked in the Queensland Reds’ history.

    In 18 seasons of Super Rugby, the Reds have never prevailed against the Highlanders in the deep south of New Zealand.

    Dunedin’s Carisbrook and icy weather-blown Invercargill have been traditional graveyards for Queensland sides but McKenzie expects his team to rise to the challenge and end the hoodoo in the Highlanders’ new, roofed Forsyth Barr Stadium.

    “We like little bits of history so we’ll look forward to that,” said the Reds’ director of coaching.

    “We haven’t won before at Carisbrook but we’re not playing at Carisbrook.

    “Weather’s always a challenge down there but we’ve got a level-playing field – which sounds a bit corny – but it suits them too.”

    Although the Highlanders remain the only winless team in the competition, they possess game-breakers like Aaron Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Hosea Gear and Ben Smith, as well as grizzled All Blacks Brad Thorn, Tony Woodcock and Andrew Hore.

    They also play an expansive and exciting brand of running rugby that suits a dry track.

    “It hasn’t paid off for them so far but their intentions are to play rugby so it makes for a big challenge,” McKenzie said.

    “They’ve got some striker power – their back three are scoring all their points so they’re potent and they like to get the ball wide.

    “They haven’t been far away so they’ll be frustrated with their circumstance and they’ll be in front of their home crowd so everything will be thrown at us in this game.”

    Queensland also have doubts over Wallabies three-quarters Digby Ioane (knee) and Ben Tapuai (hand) who have undergone scans, as well as utility back Mike Harris (hand), following knocks in the 23-18 win over the Bulls.

    Dom Shipperley looms as the most likely starting replacement if either are ruled out while flanker Liam Gill is fit to return from his knee injury.
    If Ioane and Tapuai are cleared, the Reds will field their strongest team of the season following the successful returns of leaders James Horwill (hamstring) and Will Genia (knee).

    Former NSW mentor McKenzie breaks Robbie Deans’ record as the most-capped Super Rugby coach when he guides a side for the 121st match, which comes with a 63 per cent success rate.

    “It’s an interesting statistic but it’s more a testament to survival than anything,” he said.

    “I won’t be giving a second thought.”

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (16)

    • March 26th 2013 @ 8:16am
      Simon Levingston said | March 26th 2013 @ 8:16am | ! Report

      Keep up the good work Ewen, please stay in Queensland, for your family and Australian Rugby. You have the chance to leave behind a proud legacy and Queensland may even name a stadium after you to remember the sacrifices you made.

    • March 26th 2013 @ 10:40am
      Bunratty said | March 26th 2013 @ 10:40am | ! Report

      “I won’t be giving a second thought.” 🙂

    • March 26th 2013 @ 10:51am
      nickoldschool said | March 26th 2013 @ 10:51am | ! Report

      I have the Highlanders winning this one. Promising signs last week and I still think they can turn their season around.

    • Roar Guru

      March 26th 2013 @ 12:29pm
      Dasher said | March 26th 2013 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

      I remember the last time we played the Highlanders down in Invercargill. The Highlanders were allowed two extremely dubious tries to win 24-19, including one where they blatantly held Braid and another out of the way to allow a runner through a yawning gap. Truly poor refereeing. If the result had gone the other way, as it should have, Mooney probably would have kept his job.

      • March 26th 2013 @ 1:28pm
        Wii said | March 26th 2013 @ 1:28pm | ! Report

        Like the poor referring that allowed the Waratahs to benefit and eventually win the game against the Blues?
        Whenever the ref is against Australian teams you are up in arms, when he’s in favour for your teams everyone else must suck it up.

        Seems to me someone is looking to blame the ref before the starting lineups are named

        • Roar Guru

          March 26th 2013 @ 4:06pm
          Dasher said | March 26th 2013 @ 4:06pm | ! Report

          I’m not one to blame a ref, but that game was the big exception to prove the rule. All – including the NZ commentators – were scratching their heads over those two calls! I don’t even remember what nationality the ref was.
          Since this is the first time you’ve replied to one of my posts, I assume you are referring to all Australians getting up in arms. I know enough about the game that the referee rarely has that much impact on the result – maybe the margin, but never the result.
          And I’m not making any excuses, I think the Highlanders are gifted but unmotivated this year. If the Reds don’t dust them, then we can safely assume the Reds are not finals material. The Highlanders certainly aren’t.

          • March 26th 2013 @ 5:05pm
            Wii said | March 26th 2013 @ 5:05pm | ! Report

            I can tell you now the Reds aren’t finals material and were the benefactors of dubious hometown officiating in their matches against both the Tahs and Hurricanes. They have not put away any team convincingly this year and have yet to leave the golden shores of Queensland, I expect to see them get a bit of a lesson this weekend in Dunedin.

            One thing that I think that could be counting against the Reds is they are the only team to have played six straight I believe and are carrying a few injuries, having Ioane out is a big blow, Genia is nowhere near his best and the less said about Quade the better.
            The Highlanders however are down on confidence and this shows with their inability to close out a match. Although two of their matches have been against the defending champions Chiefs and a rampant Cheetahs touring outfit.

            I don’t see a lot of difference between the two teams but I feel the Reds will be exposed this weekend..

            • Roar Guru

              March 27th 2013 @ 12:01am
              Dasher said | March 27th 2013 @ 12:01am | ! Report

              Agree. I’ve been worried about the Reds since their sluggish start in 2012. I think their time at the top has passed. They just don’t appear consistently lethal anymore. However, they shouldn’t slump to what they used to be – not any time soon I hope. This weekend should expose some truths about both teams.

              • March 27th 2013 @ 12:35am
                Wii said | March 27th 2013 @ 12:35am | ! Report

                Most definitely, two teams at opposite ends of the table albeit the Reds position is slightly inflated due to having played one to two more games than anyone else in the top 6.
                The Reds based on their form so far this season would have to be the favourites against a Highlanders fixed firmly to the bottom of the ladder although playing at home.
                A Highlanders win could only be seen as an upset a Reds win is expected but not taken for granted.

                On paper this Reds outfit is better man for man in most positions than the Highlanders in my opinion, the latter having a few issues with the half back, 2nd five axis at the moment. Both Sladevand Sopoaga seem to be holding back after both returning from lengthy injury breaks, so understandably they are seemingly a little gun shy so to speak.
                Aaron Smith is struggling behind a pack who aren’t providing front foot ball, he is indecisive and tending to stand over the ball longer before passing this year, which is ironic considering the new laws.

    • March 26th 2013 @ 12:41pm
      AndyS said | March 26th 2013 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

      Bit of a tough one to call. All that history was out in the open, but now they’re in the House of Pane..

    • March 27th 2013 @ 12:30am
      Felix said | March 27th 2013 @ 12:30am | ! Report

      I’m a Stormers fan & know about the Bulls that faced the Reds:Bulls are playing their worst rugby in years,a victory against an undecided bulls team is no reason for hope believe me,Its a pitty the Reds didnt meet hard SA dominant SA physicality

      • March 27th 2013 @ 12:41am
        Wii said | March 27th 2013 @ 12:41am | ! Report

        The ref in that Bulls vs Reds match was well out of his depth.
        Both cards were absurd, firstly the Reds player did bring the Bulls player down safely and secondly what was the Bulls player supposed to do when the Reds player jumped on top of him.
        On Reunion tonight they analysed it a little more deeply and needless to say one team was a little more fortunate with calls being made, but you can look at most matches and generally one team will tend to be judged differently if not more favourably

        • March 27th 2013 @ 9:04am
          apelu said | March 27th 2013 @ 9:04am | ! Report

          Wii, do you know what the IRB has instructed the referees to get tough on? I bet you have no idea. The referees make the decisions based on those directions, not on the perceptions of ill informed people like you. They are there to referee the game, to ensure the safety of players is paramount, not to make you happy. Become a referee so you may know.

          • March 27th 2013 @ 1:12pm
            Wii said | March 27th 2013 @ 1:12pm | ! Report

            Ah excuse me apelu I know what the refs have been informed of so how about pulling back on the craziness and need to personally attack me.
            If anyone is ill informed here and unable to read it is you mate.
            Look in the mirror

            • March 27th 2013 @ 1:16pm
              Wii said | March 27th 2013 @ 1:16pm | ! Report

              I think you will find the majority of posters here at the roar and many expert opinions like that on Reunion were all bemused by the rulings. Sure dangerous tackles need to be stamped out however neither player was guilty of any foul play. The Reds player yes while the player went slightly beyond the horizontal the Reds player did everything he could to bring the guy down safely.
              The Bulls player in the second incident now what was he supposed to do??
              Come on Apelu tell us all here what he should have done?
              You might want to reign yourself in a bit and actually read what is written before launching into someone.
              Both Tackles / landing pad were sufficient of a penalty but yellow cards were ludicrous.

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