The Queensland Reds have been overrun in the second half by the table topping Hurricanes, going down 35-19 in an historic Rugby Remembers Asteron Life Super Rugby match, honouring both nation’s ANZAC heroes, at Suncorp Stadium this afternoon.
The Reds took the lead early through two tries to centre Samu Kerevi, but the Hurricanes hit back through tries to TJ Perenara and Callum Gibbins before a Liam Gill try closed it up early in the second half. Two further tries to Julian Savea and Perenara saw the Hurricanes home.
Reds head coach Richard Graham said: “We started the game exceptionally well. We were direct, abrasive and patient. You can see throughout this five-game period how much we’ve improved given a little continuity in selection.
“I look back at the game and can identify a number of areas that put us under pressure. In the first half the six penalties at the tackle and offside line initially gave them points and then field position. The turnovers gave them opportunities and we’ve seen through the competition that they are the best in the business when the game becomes loose.
“In the second half when we missed touch at 23–19 down lead to a significant change in momentum. We went from a lineout five metres out from their line to a sin binning five metres out from ours. I thought the sin binning was incredibly harsh and ultimately in that 10-minute period they shipped 12 points into us. Again, another indication of their ability if you give them opportunities.
“We have a bye next weekend and then a six game finish to the season. I know the areas we want to address moving forward. It’s not about analysis paralysis or making massive shifts, it’s about each individual improving 3–5% and putting that into our team performance.”
Despite the result, Graham said the team was honoured to play a part in commemorating the 100th anniversary of the ANZACs.
“What an incredible occasion. You couldn’t help but be caught up in the pre-match ceremony. I thought Rupert McCall’s poem was outstanding and told a wonderful story of war, sacrifice, mateship and Rugby. That followed by the Ode, the anthems and all the other elements set the tone for an incredible afternoon. I’m proud that we could play a small part in commemorating the ANZAC Spirit,” he said.
Played just a day after the 100th Anniversary of the ANZACs landing at Gallipoli, the match was preceded by a moving ANZAC tribute by both teams, who wore special commemorative jerseys for the match.
To add to the sense of occasion 10 of the Reds jerseys carried the names of 10 former Queensland Rugby representatives who served in the First World War.
These included loose forward Adam Korczyk, on his starting debut, whose jersey was inscribed “LT Richards” for Tom ‘Rusty’ Richards and James Horwill, who wore “2LT Flynn” in honour of 2nd Lieutenant Hugh Flynn, a lock who received the Distinguished Conduct Medal.
Conditions were perfect for Rugby at the kick off with the temperature at 21 degrees, though the ground was a little soft underfoot.
The Hurricanes took the lead three minutes in with a long-range penalty goal from All Blacks flyhalf Beauden Barrett.
But the Reds were on the board 14 minutes in. The pack won yet another scrum penalty in their own half and after a good touch finder by Lachie Turner the forwards worked the ball towards the Hurricanes tryline for 10 phases.
Sensing an opportunity scrumhalf Will Genia swung the ball wide where James O’Connor fed rampaging centre Kerevi who burst through two tackles to score. O’Connor missed the conversion but the Reds were in front 5-3.
Kerevi went in for his second try just two minutes later.
This time the Reds pack won a dominant scrum close to the Hurricanes’ line and after several phases the ball came to the midfield where Kerevi did superbly to get through two tacklers and stretch out his finger-tips to score on the line.
This time O’Connor’s conversion was successful and the Reds were 12-3 leaders over the tournament leading Hurricanes after 22 minutes.
Barrett made it 12-6 on 28 minutes with a second penalty goal before hitting the post with another attempt three minutes later. But the ‘Canes were in front on 35 minutes with scrumhalf TJ Perenara finishing off a Conrad Smith break. Barrett’s conversion making it 13-12.
It was 20-12 just two minutes later after flanker Callum Gibbins completed a brilliant team try sparked by a surge from Ma’a Nonu from his own 22, Barrett again adding the conversion.
Barrett missed another penalty goal attempt right on half time to leave it 20-12 to the visitors at the break.
Barrett made it 23-12 with a penalty two minutes into the second half.
But the Reds brought it back to 23-19 four minutes later as flanker Liam Gill, wearing “CAPT Cooper” on his jersey (in honour of Captain Vivian Cooper who was awarded the Military Cross for his service at Gallipoli and on the Western Front), went over from close range. The try converted by O’Connor.
The Reds then threatened to take the lead with breaks from O’Connor and Adam Thomson but the Hurricanes held on and when Gill was yellow carded on 56 minutes the Canes were able to use the 14-man advantage for Julian Savea to go over for a try on 63 minutes.
A second runaway try to TJ Perenara, converted by Barrett, completed the scoring.
The Reds have a bye next week before travelling to Christchurch where they face the Crusaders on Friday night May 8th.
ASTERON LIFE SUPER RUGBY
ST GEORGE QUEENSLANDS REDS 19 (Samu Kerevi 2, Liam Gill tries; James O’Connor 2 conversions) lost to HURRICANES 35 (TJ Perenara 2, Callum Gibbins, Julian Savea tries; Beauden Barrett 3 conversions, 3 penalty goals) at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane. (HALF TIME: Reds 12 Hurricanes 20) (Referee: Nick Briant [NZL])