‘Really disappointing’ – Trans-Tasman Gulf remains a sinkhole as Reds choke and hurricanes unleash

The simple account of the Super Rugby Pacific ‘Super Round’ game between the Hurricanes and the Reds would read something like this: One team (the Reds) scored 17 points, then the other team (the Canes) scored 30 .

A more nuanced account might say Ardie Savea hit a high shot and his side started running aggressively and playing eagerly, while the Queenslanders choked on the headlights and quit playing rugby with ease.

One team stepped up, the other team froze.

The Reds have cronyized an awkward sin record. The Reds players accidentally dropped the ball. Some have done very little. And Australian rugby fans thought, again: why can’t we do it against the people?

“Towards the end of this first half, it’s kind of a theme of ours,” Reds captain Tate McDermott said. Stan Sports after the defeat.

“Discipline has been a problem, basically. That, and an inability to hold the ball for long periods. And just basic skill mistakes.

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

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

“We probably got away a lot against Australian teams,” he said.

“I would hate to see our error rate. But you’re giving the Kiwis so many opportunities, so much possession, you’re asking them for trouble.

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

“With 17-zero, we had a few calls. Proud of the guys to finish like this. Pretty cool,” he said Stan Sports.

“At half-time, mentally, we were kind of sidetracked; complain to refs. The message was to control what we could. We’re going to enjoy this one tonight.

Giving people what they want, Queensland and Brad Thorn chose to launch their talisman, headstrong prop Taniela Tupou.

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

McDermott edged out a man he’s been compared to, TJ Perenara, and nurtured Michael Hooper’s heir apparent, Fraser McWreight. Many phases later, Thor has proven himself unstoppable – save for the law.

Double movement. High D by Canes.

But the Reds came anyway. And after forcing a line drop and winning a ruck fastball, Hunter Paisami broke 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 made a dab.

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

“It’s like that,” Stan Sports said analyst Justin Marshall diplomatically.

After the previous elimination of Hurricanes No. 13 Bailyn Sullivan for a tackle that did not really hurt his opponent, Marshall was thinking perhaps: rugby is over.

Soon so was McWreight, after McDermott backed up his forward group on a single three-pointer and a winning lineout quickly spawned the five, then the seven. Fair enough: the Reds had been better, possessing all the relevant stats.

Then the Reds went left. Julian Savea interfered with a back line move with a knockdown that went backwards and made a knockdown rule ass. Sullivan ran 70 yards to score.

Ardie Savea hit a lazy high tackle from Connor Vest which was banned for 10 minutes. If you wanted a twist, there it was.

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

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

The Canes fended off all three and scored with a rolling maul, and after some unstoppable ruck plays, Tyrel Lomax crashed. Barrett drilled the conversion, and at halftime it was 17-14.

“We had played good rugby but lacked discipline at times,” said Reds coach Brad Thorn.

“There’s work to be done there… we’ve had our half time to talk as forwards and fullbacks. It’s about doing your job well.

“There is no stress here.”

Soon there would be. Lomax hit for a brace just 50 seconds into the second stanza. Barrett blocked the conversion, but soon after kicked a simple penalty from the front. And the Canes had scored 22 unanswered points as Vest sat on the sideline, his mustache quivering.

The Hurricanes’ backline play began to look fluid 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 the Reds’ Wilson and Paisami, likely broke free from a dominating scrum, but the play fizzled 60 yards out.

Thorn and the Reds masterminds decided to take McDermott out. Given that Perenara was still in office, you could only conclude that McDermott’s ouster was premeditated. You’d think that, down five, then eight after a Barrett penalty goal with 20 minutes left, you’d want your best nine on the park.

Then they also took Tupou away.

Filipo Daugunu dropped the ball. Then he dropped it again. Both times during the race and before contact.

Perenara came out and bowed to the crowd as if they were from Japan.

Sullivan bagged a brace 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 has been abducted. Vunivalu too. McDermott returned.

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

Sports Grp2

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