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Outplayed and outbustled, finalists Reds sign off

Date

Sean Baumgart

Dejected in defeat: Reds players Scott Higginbotham, Beau Robinson, Mike Harris and James Hanson.

Dejected in defeat: Reds players Scott Higginbotham, Beau Robinson, Mike Harris and James Hanson. Photo: AFP

The Queensland Reds finished their Super Rugby campaign last night as they had played most of the season – in plan B.

The Reds’ title defence came to an abrupt end at the hands of an uncompromising Sharks side, which ran out a 30-17 winner at Suncorp Stadium last night.

As with the round four encounter between the two sides in Durban, the Reds’ curse at No.10 forced Queensland into a mid-game reshuffle when Ben Lucas, himself a fill-in for suspended Wallaby Quade Cooper, went down with an ankle injury in the 20th minute.

Louis Ludik of the Sharks brings down Mike Harris of the Reds.

Louis Ludik of the Sharks brings down Mike Harris of the Reds. Photo: AP

Blog: As it happened

A litany of handling errors also put the game on a platter for the visitors, with the Reds dropping 13 balls in the first half alone.

Nonetheless, Lucas’s injury was an expensive blow for the Reds, who had been battered in the early exchanges by a Sharks side that had paid little attention to the home side’s heavy pre-game favouritism.

Luke Morahan of the Reds takes on the Sharks defence during the Super Rugby Qualifying Final Click for more photos

Sharks swallow Reds' final hopes

A Queensland Reds side without Quade Cooper has been eliminated after their 30-17 Super Rugby semi-final loss to the Sharks. Photo: Getty Images

The Sharks now face the Stormers next weekend for a spot in the final.

If they come out of the blocks in Cape Town like they did in Brisbane last night, they will like their chances of upsetting the competition pace-setters.

By the time Lucas was helped from the field, forcing skipper Will Genia to five eighth and 19-year-old Nick Frisby to scrumhalf, the South Africans had ambushed the Reds with a penalty goal to Frederic Michalak and a try to winger JP Pietersen.

Tendai Mtawarira of the Sharks celebrates after his side downed the Reds to advance to a semi-final with fellow South African team, the Stormers.

Tendai Mtawarira of the Sharks celebrates after his side downed the Reds to advance to a semi-final with fellow South African team, the Stormers. Photo: AP

It was an opening period that Sharks coach John Plumtree and Genia agree turned the match.

“We were just poor,” Genia said.

“If you look at the very start of the game we started really well. We were in their 22 looking to build pressure and then just (made) mistakes.

“We lost it in that first period. It’s hard chasing the game when you’re 17-0 down."

The Reds mounted a fierce comeback in the second half, which was defused when the video official disallowed a pushover try in the 57th minute after the Reds had enjoyed a mountain of possession on the Sharks’ line.

The result leaves the Super Rugby finals without an Australian team, after the Crusaders beat the Bulls 28-13 yesterday to book a date with the Chiefs next week.

Plumtree, who had caused a stir earlier in the week with his criticism of the strength of the Australian Super Rugby conference, said it was one of the best wins his side had managed in recent seasons.

“The way we played in the first half was outstanding,” he said.

“To win away from home like that in a place like this was always going to be a big effort. What was it, 21 wins out of 23 games here? We knew they’d come into this game with a lot of belief with a big crowd behind them, so we had to start pretty well.

“In the end we just had to hang on in the second half because we didn’t have much possession.”

The Reds suffered another blow in the middle of the first half when Wallabies hooker Saia Faingaa left the field with a corked biceps.

Reds coach Ewen McKenzie said while the injuries had taken a toll on the side, it was a situation he had become used to in an injury-plagued season.

“We trained really well this week and organised and had a plan,” he said.

“Like we’ve learnt this year, we’ve always got plan B and C. Will going to 10, well Will went to 10 last time we played these guys.

“We were prepared, we had different coverage scenarios and that was one of them.”

Plumtree agreed Lucas’s injury had been damaging, but said he was surprised McKenzie had opted for Genia at five-eighth and not inside centre Mike Harris.

“I was a little bit surprised they didn’t put Harris at 10 and leave Will at nine,” he said.

“Will tried to be the playmaker and that allowed us into the game because he was throwing a lot of skip passes and stuff. It was actually a big blow for them, I believe, losing Quade for a start and then losing Lucas in a replica of what happened in Durban.”

Tries to JP Pietersen, Paul Jordaan and Charl McLeod did the damage for the visitors, while Frederic Michalak kicked three conversions, two penalties and a drop goal.

Genia and Radike Samo crossed for the Reds, with Harris kicking a conversion and a penalty and Genia one conversion.

2 comments so far

  • Not to mention out referreed, It amazes me that the unions around the world wonder why games can get shockinh displays of rugby, they really need to look at referees who fail to referee the offside, hard to have open flowing rugby when the defense is sitting in your lap. I am sure they way some referees "interpreate" the Laws of rugby has a great impact on the game but when one side appears to be given more leinency than the other it can be a little disappointing. I also wonder sending some one off in the 80th minute when they have been warned about from about the 10th minute falls well within the realm of farce. Maybe we should take it away from the refs discrecion. Say u foul in yoru own 22 then you automatically get 10 in the bin, now that would make a more entertaining spectacle. Provided the referee is not bias of course and as if any of them are .....

    Commenter
    Toowongtom
    Date and time
    July 22, 2012, 11:45PM
    • Have to question the Reds bench strategy when Lucas was injured. Why move Genia to 10. More sensible to move Harris to 10, and Tapuai to 12. If there were worries over Tapuai then he shouldnt have been in the 22. Not only has Genia played very little 10, the service he recieved was slow and erratic, particularly ball off the ground from Frisbee. Not sure why so much controversy over the Gill "no try". Firstly, Ioane never played the ball, footage is clear on that, secondly, a ruck had formed, and once a ruck forms, you cannot play the ball with your hands, and thirdly, Gill is off his feet, playing the ball in a ruck. the only thing that cannot be determined is whether or not the Sharks player has released Ioane and allowed him to play the ball. the only thing I can see out of the whole situation is a pnalty either way, most likely to the Sharks, but possibly to the Reds. Held up and 5 metre scrum did not and still does not enter the equation from what I saw.

      Commenter
      Phantom
      Location
      Toowoomba
      Date and time
      July 23, 2012, 6:04AM

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