Five things we learnt from Reds - Rebels

Fri, May 10, 2024, 11:45 AM
Lachlan Grey
by Lachlan Grey

It wasn’t pretty at times but a second-half surge was enough to see the Reds home 26-22 over the Rebels in Brisbane.

The Rebels led 15-5 at half time before the hosts scored three tries in eight minutes shortly after oranges to streak ahead.

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Here’s what we learnt:

1.Slow start, fast finish, ugly win

The Reds’ opening half was more reminiscent of performances against Moana and the Force than their fiery fortnight gone – error-riddled and ill-disciplined with eight penalties in the first 40.

Credit to Melbourne who defended grimly and won the collision areas early doors with Queensland’s offensive rucks routinely being flooded by navy jerseys.

Makeshift centre Nick Jooste shone in defence with two memorable shots on Josh Flook eliciting roars from the crowd and a portion of the Queenslander’s  last meal.

Les Kiss’ men turned it around after half time but it was another rocks and diamonds performance from both sides in the end that leaves more questions than answers.

2. Missed opportunity for Melbourne

No-one needs reminding about how hard the Rebels’ final six weeks of Super Rugby Pacific are.

Back-to-back losses against the Crusaders and Blues after the bye crippled the Burn Boys’ momentum and a win against their Australia rivals was critical to getting back on the horse.

Kevin Foote will doubtless be disappointed to give up a 15-5 half time lead and there’s tough games to come with the Chiefs (home), Brumbies (away) and Drua (away) laying in wait.

That losing bonus point could prove crucial in the fight for a maiden playoff berth.

3. Much ado about hooking

Speaking of the Rebels, how about the effort from Sam Talakai in a losing side.

The big Wallaby tighthead was called upon in the eighth minute to replace the injured Taniela Tupou and ended up covering as a hooker midway through the second half when Jordan Uelese had to undergo HIA protocol.

This unusual circumstance was brought about by an injury to Alex Mafi during the warm-up.

While the throwing might’ve had some wobbles, Talakai was tireless in Brisbane and set up Nabolokasi’s late try to give the Rebels a sniff.

Sam Talakai and the Rebels are out to 'fire a shot' in their quest for finals football. Photo: Getty Images
4. Reds' purple patch

Post-game, Tate McDermott described their performance as an "ugly win" but some of Queensland's play early in the second half was anything but.

The Fraser McReight try was rolling maul regulation. What followed from Jock Campbell and Tim Ryan was sublime.

First, the slick hands from Lawson Creighton and Tim Ryan to put Campbell into space. Still with work to do, the Reds fullback gave his best shimmy-shake to leave Rebels in his wake from 40m out.

Then the Junkyard Dog. All excellent lead-up work from Hunter Paisami to break the line and feed the JYD out wide but the five points isn't scored without Ryan's unerring ability to step inside the final defender.

If Queensland can play like that for a full 80, they'll be a genuine top 4 contender.

5. Wallabies on injury alert

Andrew Kellaway may have passed his HIA but there's still concerns over Test duo Taniela Tupou and Harry Wilson.

Tupou was subbed off in the eighth minute after a seemingly innocuous incident and did not return while Wilson suffered what appeared to be a wrist injury durign the second half and was substituted for John Bryant.

Both would be on Joe Schmidt's watch list after strong performances through the 2024 season and we'll be reviewing their progress with great interest.

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