Queanbeyan product and Queensland Reds player Anthony Faingaa. Photo: Martin Hunter
Defensive linchpin Anthony Faingaa believes the Queensland Reds have momentum in spite of a gut-wrenching loss to the Canterbury Crusaders but must start gaining four-try bonus points to make the Super Rugby finals.
The competition entertainers in the past two seasons, the Reds have yet to earn an attacking bonus point this year as they have struggled to score tries due to an injury-ravaged back line.
The defending champions have scored just 18 tries in 10 matches, with three their most in any single game, and they sit ninth on the table.
Now nine points behind the ACT Brumbies in the Australian conference, the Reds need to win five of their last six matches to guarantee a play-off berth.
With a home win over the table-topping Waikato Chiefs crucial on Sunday, particularly when the Brumbies get four points from a bye, Wallabies centre Faingaa said the Reds were aiming to break the try-scoring rot.
''We have to keep believing and get bonus points and win games,'' he said yesterday. ''I think it's something we need to look into but we have to get the win first.
''We have to get bonus points … and we have to do what we can to get bonus points.''
Reds coach Ewen McKenzie said that plans for victory wouldn't be compromised by mindless attack but was confident his team's all-round play was clicking back into gear through the return of players.
''[Four tries] happen if you play well enough across the game,'' McKenzie said. ''I think if you go out there and try to construct that from minute one, you'll be behind.
''You've got to get in front on the scoreboard and stay in front.''
In his first start in 10 weeks, the fast-rushing Faingaa was highly influential in keeping the Crusaders tryless in an impressive defensive display in the 15-11 loss on Sunday when their attack was hampered by a string of breakdown penalties.
''I feel like that momentum is starting to shift and I think it's coming our way,'' Faingaa said.
''I thought some of the stuff we did yesterday was encouraging but obviously we have a few areas to improve on. I'm gutted by the loss, we should have come away from Christchurch with a win.''
While the previously red-hot Crusaders back line was kept quiet, the Reds know that they have just as big an assignment at Suncorp Stadium to break the Chiefs' nine-match winning streak.
Sonny Bill Williams has struck up a fine combination with fellow All Black Richard Kahui in the centres but it is flyhalf Aaron Cruden, in career-best form, who McKenzie rates as more influential.
''They're playing well as a team,'' McKenzie said. ''They've got a good culture going. They're the benchmark side. It's a good challenge for us at Suncorp.'' AAP