Alex Mafi was outstanding as the starting hooker for the Reds. He has the physical build to set up throw-ins and driving maul.
That first good example was not long after half-time. When Mafi controlled the maul by staying square & forward. He can notice the Rebels struggling to hold on.
Despite their desperate defense needed to hold the Reds out. But Mafi is focusing on the support needed to find some space. Thanks to the push from his team-mates. And pulled the trigger at the right time. When Mafi able to find the execution that marked the Reds first touchdown.
Then again in the 77th minute when the Reds earned another reprieve. As the Rebels began to falter. In return Mafi got the same routine right. Knowing where the Rebels struggle. Before the opposition just too slow to catch him. With Mafi using his attacking prowess of power & pace. And secured another touchdown that eventually became a winning moment.
It goes to show that Brad Thorn trusts Mafi in the starting XV. Where he disposed Brandon Paenga-Amosa. He has the defensive attributes to help out & build blocks. And the same goes in the attack with the physical package to hurt the defenders. As long he knows where the opposition unable to reach him. Mafi hopes he can help go one better in 2021.
Glad to see him return to rugby union after all with the Reds. Where he came off a great 2020 in rugby league for the Melbourne Storm. He may not been starting for most of the time tonight.
But as soon as he got off the bench in the 64th minute. Vunivalu added a different dimension in the backs. Mainly on the right flank alongside Filipo Daugunu via the opposite dial. While Jordan Petaia moved to inside centre. After a great run before Vunivalu came on. Just not enough support to support his execution early.
With Vunivalu you see him reliving Petaia to his favoured position. While he runs and runs around. Especially when he almost scored a touchdown off the boot of Joe Powell. The ball may have gone into touch one meter past the TRY line. But it still gave the Reds more chances in return.
Where the attacking awareness injected on the field. Despite the 14 men created by the Feao Fotuaika dangerous tackle earlier on. And the ill-discipline. The Reds were relieved to have his support. With the end goal all about winning. And they were able to just meet that requirement.
If Vunivalu did not come on then the Reds may not have won without him. He deserves to start next game. Not next week since his team has the bye. But he already shown lots of finishing prowess in league. There is lots of touchdowns recorded last year. Might be a different code this time. But he can transfer this attribute. So his presence is exactly what Brad Thorn needs in this squad. And go one better in 2021 for the championship.
He would be one of the best players on the opposite end tonight. Even though he is in a losing side. After starting the lead for most of the time & holding it. But just unable to maintain it until the very end.
Reece has the ability to run up to the defenders. Where he can provide the headstart needed for the Rebels. Thanks to the Reds ill-discipline. Credit is due to give himself a chance from the forwards unit. Goes to show these foundations.
It gives credit for the Rebels knowing where the Reds struggled. And why the home side unable to stay ahead for the majority. With Hodge using the pace & physicality not just the usual attack. In a bid to try and fend the opposition team.
He can hold back and stuff the Reds attacking half. When they lack support to continue with the ball. Hodge able to find and hold them short. Good reading there when the Reds felt isolated at times. And you have a tall stature in Reece holding them back. Reece can also kick into goal as well even from long range. Another reason there to face such a tough player.
The discipline mistakes late from the Rebels cost this game. Where there was not much opportunity to support Reece crack up the defense. Instead it is just desperately holding off with a lot of defensive input. And so little in the attack to distance themselves even further from the Reds. That is the one area the Rebels need to focus on next game. May be the answer to see more of Hodge being an all round player in the attack. Where he can finish off both the speed and boot. Marry it up and you see it as the game changer.