‘They kicked too much’ – Reds send the ball to Chiefs, Chiefs throw it back, Chiefs win




At halftime between the Reds and the Chiefs at Suncorp Stadium, Stan Sports analyst Tim Horan launched a plaintive plea on behalf of many on Planet Rugby.

“I can’t wait to see both teams run the ball more in the second half,” Horan said in his understated manner.

He meant that for 40 minutes (actually it was 47) of long kicks, condensed defense and fractured scrums, the game did not entertain as hoped rather with fourth and fifth seeded teams .

It didn’t get much better – not for Queensland, anyway – who kept sending the ball to the Chiefs who headed it their way. And on top of that, ultimately, thankfully, the Chiefs hung on to earn a hard-fought 27-25 victory.

It was a cohesion-starved game – both defenses were solid. Neither team really threatened to burst. Pressure was high and handling suffered, even on a dry night in Brisbane.

The tactical kicks were uphill. For 75 minutes, it was like a big game of “repressions”.

“We knew they liked to hit for territory and play the ball in the right areas,” Chiefs flyhalf Bryn Gatland said after the game.

“And U.S. too.”

At halftime, it was one try each and 13 everywhere. Queensland were scored by No.8 Harry Wilson in the 30th minute; while the Chiefs scored theirs nearly seven minutes into extra time, the televised tally in the red.

It was in those minutes that Taniela Tupou left the pitch with a leg injury.

“In terms of a real Trans-Tasman battle, the glare wasn’t there,” Justin Marshall said at halftime.

Just after the break, Chiefs hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho crashed after sustained pressure. Wilson was immediately ordered out for 10 minutes despite not being penalized.

Tate McDermott recovered a stray ball and ran 50 yards, feeding in Josh Flook who broke through the cover and scored. Down with a man, it was an important piece.

Reds’ Josh Flook tries to break away from the Chiefs’ Alex Nankivell defence. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Wilson came back, only for the Chiefs to do a big bust down the left for the best pass of the game: all high-speed no-look passes.

The move was halted when Reds full-back Jock Campbell deliberately punched forward. He left and the Reds were at 14 again.

The Chiefs bombed near the line before No. 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, a representative basketball player from his native Fiji, scored near the posts.

Gatland’s conversion gave his side a 9-point lead with 15 minutes remaining. Not impossible for Queensland – although 15 players on the pitch would help.

As would the Wallabies Hunter Paisami and Filipo Daugunu who were on the edge of anonymity. Fraser “The Heir” McWreight had his moments.

“But the Reds are still pushing the ball too far, for mine,” said Horan

And yet the Reds kept kicking. And the chiefs kept pushing him back. And then kick.

Seru Eru came for Queensland. Jack Campbell is back. Chiefs replacement lock Samipeni Finau was sent off for a high shot.

And the Reds started to play.

A game in 14 phases resulted in a penalty. A six-phase game meant a try for Paisami. Lawson Creighton’s conversion made it a three-point game with three minutes remaining.

And you asked yourself: Run the ball, huh? It could well be felt.

Yet for too long the Reds’ tenure, with No.10 rookie Creighton in place of the injured James O’Connor, had been given to the Chiefs and bolstered their defence.

Both teams were “pretty nervous about playing anywhere in their own turf,” Horan assumed.

“They were nervous about returning the ball. The Reds push the ball too far.

“Gatland need to spread the ball better,” Horan said, adding he was looking forward to seeing both teams chasing the ball a bit more in the second half. It didn’t quite turn out that way.




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