The Queensland Reds made a crucial tactical change to register a 40-34 victory over the Chiefs in their Trans-Tasman Super Rugby match in Townsville this weekend. Coach Brad Thorn threw two bigger flankers, co-captain Liam Wright and Angus Scott-Young, knocking open flanker Fraser McReight off the reserve bench.
It was a big call as McReight is one of the rising stars of Australian rugby, a member of the so-called “golden generation” of the 2019 Junior Wallabies. Scott-Young is not necessarily a better footballer than McReight, but he is 10cm taller and 8kg heavier, giving the Reds a very physical and strong back line.
From the 2019 World Cup final between South Africa and England, it’s clear that great background combinations are one of the keys to winning in the modern age, while the traditional Australian smaller and more mobile flanker is becoming obsolete.
This change in tactical thinking has important ramifications for the Wallabies as well, with national coach Dave Rennie pledging that No.7 specialist Michael Hooper will be the team’s captain again this year, going against the grain of the international trend.
With a bigger backrow Queensland were able to win the collisions against the Chiefs and when the Reds do win the collisions they more often than not win the game. But that wasn’t the only big change the Reds made.
Queenslanders are prone to unforced handling errors and are in desperate need of tidying up this area. Unlike their big losses to the Highlanders and Crusaders in the first two rounds, the Reds “cherished” the ball against the Chiefs, which is necessary to have any hope of beating the New Zealand counterattackers.
It had been 457 days since an Australian Super Rugby team had beaten a New Zealand team. In the first 10 minutes it looked like the Chiefs could cut the Reds to pieces, but as Wright pointed out, Queensland capitalized on some bad discipline.
The Reds did not really dominate the Chiefs until midway through the first half after the visitors fell to 14 and then 13 men after a yellow card to winger Chase Tiatia for a deliberate knockdown and the red card from the five-eighth star Damian. McKenzie for a high tackle on Tate McDermott.
With the Reds leading 33-3 at half-time, the game should have been out of reach for the Chiefs, but Queensland barely managed to resist a second-half comeback from a side that should have been be tired after playing understaffed.
Whether the Reds’ win was a breakthrough against the Kiwis or an aberration remains to be seen, but there were other bright spots for Queensland, such as the progress of rugby league convert Suliasi Vunivalu and the eye-catching performance from the center. Isaac. Henry, who scored two tries on his debut.
The remainder of the results from the third round, which saw the other four Australian teams losing large margins to rivals Kiwi, suggested that the Trans-Tasman gap was still quite wide with the overall win-loss record for the ‘Australia at 1-14. And once again, the challenges will be formidable for the Australian teams this weekend.
The Force will try to avoid another beating at the hands of a Crusader team desperate for bonus points in Christchurch on Friday night, but the Reds will be keen to fight the Blues in Brisbane.
If the Reds can beef up against the Blues and protect the ball like they did against the Chiefs, home advantage could be enough to tip the scales, but any slack in their game will be punished with a brilliant outfit. ‘attack. .
The Highlanders will be disappointed in themselves that they failed to secure a significant bonus point against the Rebels, and they will look to take their frustration out on the hapless Waratahs. The Rebels exposed some weaknesses in the Highlanders’ game last week, especially during the melee, but it’s hard to see the Waratahs causing an overflow in Dunedin.
After three difficult weeks in New Zealand, the Brumbies will be delighted to play their first home game in the trans-Tasman competition when they host the Hurricanes in Canberra on Saturday night, but they will need all the perks to beat the men from Wellington.
If the Rebels play like they did in patches against the Highlanders, they should be reasonably competitive against the Chiefs, without McKenzie suspended, in Hamilton on Sunday, but something seems to be happening to the Australian teams as they cross Tasman. At least the Reds have shown that the Kiwis aren’t invincible, even if a lone win doesn’t make a season.