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REACTION: 'Really disappointing'- Trans-Tasman gulf remains a chasm as Reds choke and Hurricanes rip in

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Expert
23rd April, 2022
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The simple telling of the Super Rugby Pacific ‘Super Round’ fixture between the Hurricanes and the Reds would read something like this: one team (the Reds) scored 17 points, and then the other team (the Canes) scored 30.

A more nuanced telling might have it that Ardie Savea copped a high shot and his team began to run with aggression and play alacrity, while the Queenslanders choked in the headlights and stopped playing rugby with any fluency.

One team stepped up, the other team froze.

The Reds copped an inconvenient sin bin. Reds players inconveniently dropped the ball. Some did very little. And Australian rugby fans thought, again: why can’t we get it done against the people?

“Towards the back end of that first half, it’s kind of been a theme of ours,” Reds captain Tate McDermott said on Stan Sport after the defeat.

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“Discipline’s been an issue, basically. That, and an inability to hold the ball for long periods of time. And just basic skill errors.

“I’m really proud of that first half. But we came out in the second a different side and that’s really disappointing.”

McDermott felt that playing a Kiwi side was different from playing an Australian one.

“We probably got away with a lot against the Aussie sides,” he said.

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“I’d hate to see our error rate. But you give the Kiwis that many opportunities, that much possession, you’re asking for trouble.”

Hurricanes captain Jordie Barrett said that coming back from a 17-0 deficit to score 30 points was ‘pretty cool’.

“Being 17-nil down we had a few calls went our way. Proud of the lads to finish like that. Pretty cool,” he told Stan Sport.

“At half time, mentally we were kind of switched away; complaining to refs. The message was to control what we could. We’ll enjoy this one tonight.”

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Giving the people what they want, Queensland and Brad Thorn chose to start their talisman, tighthead prop Taniela Tupou.

He did several good things, including hammering Barrett, who re-thought his angles around the Tongan Thor.

McDermott outpaced a man he’s been compared to, TJ Perenara, and fed the heir apparent to Michael Hooper, Fraser McWreight. Many phases later Thor proved irrepressible – except to the law.

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Double-movement. Top D by Canes.

But still the Reds came. And after forcing a line drop out and winning quick ball at ruck, Hunter Paisami busted the line, fed Tupou who fed Hamish Stewart for the try. And after 25 minutes the Reds had a deserved 10-nil lead.

Then Tupou did a dab.

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Hurricanes loosehead Pouri Rakete-Stones was sin-binned for a tackle in which his shoulder connected with Paisami’s lower jaw.

“It is what it is,” Stan Sport analyst Justin Marshall said diplomatically.

Following the earlier binning of Hurricanes No.13 Bailyn Sullivan for a lifting tackle that didn’t actually hurt his opponent, Marshall was perhaps thinking: rugby is over.

Soon enough, so was McWreight, after McDermott backed his forward pack over a simple three points and a winning lineout soon begat the five and then seven points. It was fair enough: the Reds had been better, owning all pertinent statistics.

Then the Reds went left. Julian Savea got in the way of a backline move with a knock-down that went backwards and made an ass of the knock-down rule. Sullivan went 70 metres to score.

Ardie Savea copped a lazy high tackle by Connor Vest who was binned for 10 minutes. If you wanted a turning point, there it was.

Peter Umaga-Jensen of the Hurricanes is tackled.

Peter Umaga-Jensen of the Hurricanes is tackled. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

“There’s just no room for error now – you go,” Stan Sport host Nick McCardle said, adding that managing game play with 14 and 13 players on the field is now a thing.

The Canes spurned the three and scored from a rolling maul, and after a few irrepressible ruck plays tighthead Tyrel Lomax bashed over. Barrett drilled the conversion, and at half time it was 17-14.

“We’d played some good rugby but occasionally lacked discipline,” Reds coach Brad Thorn said.

“Some work to do there… we’ve had our half time to talk as forwards and backs. It’s about doing your job well.

“There’s no stress in here.”

There would be soon. Lomax bashed over for a double barely 50 seconds into the second stanza. Barrett blocked the conversion, yet shortly after kicked a simple penalty from in front. And the Canes had scored 22 unanswered points as Vest sat on the sideline, moustache twitching.

The Hurricanes backline play began to look fluent while the Reds looked rushed, stilted. Former Melbourne Storm star Suliasi Vunivalu sat on his wing, a shag on a rock.

McDermott and McWreight along with Wilson and Paisami the Reds’ most likely, broke free from a dominant scrum but the play broke down 60 metres upfield.

Thorn and the Reds’ brains trust decided to take McDermott off. Given Perenara was still on, you could only conclude that McDermott’s ouster was premeditated. You would think, down by five and then eight following a Barrett penalty goal with 20 minutes to go, you’d want your best nine on the park.

Then they took Tupou off as well.

Filipo Daugunu dropped the ball. Then he dropped it again. Both times while running and prior to contact.

Perenara came off and bowed to the crowd like they were from Japan.

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Sullivan bagged a double from a tidy grubber by Jackson Garden-Bachop (whose dad is Stephen Bachop, uncle is Graham Bachop and cousin is Aaron Mauger. Safe to say he knows rugby).

Daugunu was taken off. Vunivalu, too. McDermott came back on.

And the gulf between our rugby nations remained as wide as the Tasman Sea.

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