The Reds’ loss to the old enemy NSW on Saturday night was devastating for Queenslanders.
The Reds put on a six-try-to-four extravaganza only to be beaten by eight points as a result of giving away more penalties and Bernard Foley’s accurate goal kicking.
On the goal kicking, Bryce Hegarty had an excellent game in every other respect, scoring two tries. Unfortunately his boot – which is normally one of the best in the Aussie conference at over 80 per cent accuracy – let him down in this game, slotting only one of six attempts.
It was a lousy day at the office for the Hegarty, but the reality is he would have had to kick at 100 per cent to get the Reds a win due to Bernard Foley’s sharp shooting. Foley’s successful penalties all occurred in the second half of the game, with the Reds being penalised seven times to the Waratahs’ four. Despite the temptation to be parochial and blame the penalties on the ref, they all looked fair enough on replay.
The two scrum penalties were the most concerning. This was the second time in the last two weeks Queensland have conceded critical scrum penalties towards the end of matches.
This is disappointing as the Reds’ big pack have scrummaged well all season, so hopefully the coaches will analyse why this is occurring and correct the late-game fades.
The refereeing decision that looked questionable was the try to NSW No.8 Michael Wells, which looked like it came from a forward pass by Kurtley Beale. The ref didn’t think so, though, and awarded it without checking with the television match official, much to the displeasure of the spectators, who let him know about it with a bout of abuse and booing.
Unfortunately that wasn’t the start of the spectator behaviour.
Where I usually sit near the sideline towards the centre of the park, there were quite a few blokes who spend most of the game bellowing ‘advice’ to the ref and touchies about alleged opposition infringements. I suspect that these loud attempts to influence the officials by Reds fans are counter-productive, annoying them to the point where they subconsciously punish the Reds on 50/50 calls.
I remember the same fixture against the Tahs in 2017, when the referee penalised the Reds off the park in the last 30 minutes for no apparent reason, with the Reds again losing after gaining an official lead. The coincidence seems uncanny.
Many of us have vented frustration at a refereeing decision that we don’t like and a bit of witty banter from the sideline can be funny, but is it really necessary for people to badger the officials for the entire game?
Perhaps it might work to influence referees in New Zealand regional footy stadiums, but over there, every second bloke seems to look like Buck Shelford and the bloke next to him looks like Richard Loe.
In contrast, in the platinum stands at Suncorp, it is all chinos and boat shoes. There is nothing intimidating about a bunch of bellowing tax accountants – it is just annoying and if I was the ref I would be inclined to teach them some manners, too.
There are more positive ways to support our team. When hooker Alex Mafi caught Matt McGahan’s magical left-footed cross kick and dodged inside Tahs winger Alex Newsome to score at try, thousands of Reds supporters leapt to their feet and roared with joy at our hooker/winger, pumping our fists skyward in unison.
It was an awesome rugby memory that I won’t lose despite the loss. Thanks Alex and Matt.
Isn’t it great to see a homegrown player like Mafi progress so well this season. He started not being able to reliably throw a line-out and now he is throwing straight and true, as well as doing an awesome job in the scrum and around the park.
The Reds need the crowds to keep up the positive support, bag the officials a lot less and perhaps even throw in the odd “well done, sir” when they make decisions we like.
Honey catches more flies than vinegar – a sentiment the QRU would do well to gently remind fans of before the last couple of home games this year.