Gamble on two penalties spurs dramatic turnaround
Reds 42 Chiefs 27
Claer run ... Will Genia of the Reds on the way to the tryline. Photo: Getty Images
If the Queensland Reds go on to defend their Super Rugby title, or even make some noise in the finals, they will look back to a stretch of play before half-time against the Chiefs yesterday and remember the courageous calls that turned a season.
Reeling from three quick tries in front of a home crowd, the Reds trailed 22-8 and looked as if they had no answer for the power and skills of the men from Waikato.
Mike Harris of the Reds gets a pass away. Photo: Getty Images
Awarded a penalty, Queensland captain James Horwill opted to kick for the sideline. Awarded another right in front, he opted to take a quick tap. Ben Lucas would score out wide and the Reds comeback had begun, ending in a 42-27 win over the Super Rugby hotshots.
After being hammered by injuries at the start of the year, followed by a period where they were flat and lacking inspiration, the Reds are a force once again. This was a clutch game in every sense and a mammoth second half delivered the goods.
The Reds provided a withering retort to the Chiefs' onslaught with three tries in 11 minutes to skip clear, aided by the boot of Mike Harris (six from seven, one drop). The converted Kiwi has rediscovered his kicking prowess and nailed the coffin shut with his clinical extras.
Sonny Bill Williams scores for the Chiefs. Photo: Getty Images
It all began with the gutsy call to shun a certain three points just a minute before half-time. Horwill has been criticised in the past for such gung-ho tactics, but this time his bravado was vindicated.
Outstanding halfback Will Genia, who along with superb young openside Liam Gill was the best player on the park, said the Lucas try spun the match on its head.
"I think the turning point for us was the try before halftime. It was a brave move to take the tap and go," Genia said.
"From there, quick tries after halftime put us in a good place moving forward into the game. We'd worked hard building pressure and we just backed ourselves."
After the game, Digby Ioane, who had a quite night by his standards, boldly declared: "The Reds are back." Genia stopped short of that but it's clear the momentum is building at Ballymore.
With their finals spot on the line last night, the Reds stood up to move into ninth on the ladder, just five points out of the top six.
Genia, who has turned in a pair of blinders since committing to the Reds after almost joining the Force, said the confidence was returning. With current waterboy Quade Cooper just weeks away from a comeback, that belief will only intensify.
"The biggest difference moving forward is the lift in intensity and attitude around the place. The feeling around the group, it almost feels like its back to where we want to be, where we were last year even," Genia said.
Genia commanded the backline, while Gill ripped apart the Chiefs' breakdown to continue his rise through Australia's forwards.
The Chiefs had some right to feel sold short by officials when Sonny Bill Williams was tipped over the horizontal by Luke Morahan in the 65th minute.
Incredibly, neither referee Marius Jonker nor sideline officials Andrew Leesand Simon Moore knew the culprit, telling Horwill the only reason a yellow card wasn't produced was because they didn't have a number.
Morahan then made a pair of try-saving tackles to keep his side's lead.
The Chiefs had some terrible injury news, with Richard Kahui dislocating a shoulder, which will rule him out for the season.
Their backline lost some punch in his absence and the Reds were good enough to turn the tide in their favour in a high-quality match that might have sparked a run to the finals.
Poll: Will Queensland make a late charge for the Super Rugby title?
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- Yes, they will gain a wildcard berth
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Poll closed 20 May, 2012
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