It was another close match-up last night in Week 12 of the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific at Suncorp Stadium. Queensland Reds fired off as always in the first-half where they just held on a two-point lead at half-time, 12-10. But it’s the Highlanders, who overcame two yellow cards earlier on to a sensational comeback in the last 40-45 mins, that puts them back in the Playoffs bubble in 8th after their 19-27 win.
Queensland need to work on their 2nd half spell where the momentum just wasn’t the same as the 1st half; it’s has always been the case since they first faced NZ teams back in Week 10 v Hurricanes. They came from a long way when the Reds had to deal with injuries from James O’Connor, Hunter Paisami & now Taniela Tupou. And they managed to cope for half the time without them on the field, thanks to the team spirit installed by head coach Brad Thorn. It’s maybe some inexperienced players need on their toes when it comes to the 2nd half run, where the result may be different if JOC, Paisami & Tupou weren’t injured. However, these players can improve without their main men if they’re able to put on a full show, that will define the Reds’ position on the ladder with three regular games left.
And the Hurricanes may not have a great first 30-35 mins where they not only lost one but two men via the yellow card, as the Reds took control at the time. But they were back up and running though when it comes to playing a full XV, as well as a few changes off the bench that changed everything. The brilliant work from their forward pack made the backline’s life easier to execute, thanks to the Reds finishing weaknesses when the opposition’s fired off momentum began to falter. Then some fresh legs from Folau Fakatava competed the Highlanders comeback, where he was sensational with a TRY back pass assist to Scott Gregory followed by a TRY himself. And that is match-winning quality from the replacement half-back, who came on for Aaron Smith in the 55th minute.
The Highlanders will kick off Week 13 at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin next Friday when they welcome the Western Force from Perth. Meanwhile, the Reds will need to group their team spirit together for the full 80, if they want to shock the Blues at Eden Park next Saturday in Auckland.