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Suncorp Stadium

Great to have Super Rugby back for another year in 2024, especially on a Saturday night that began with the long-running Queensland Reds v NSW Waratahs rivalry as this week’s game of the round at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. It was a close first half where the Waratahs showed some intent in the way they spotted a few Reds mistakes before they cashed in with the rewards on hand, while the home side benefitted from winning penalties every time when they have the ball in hand going forward & they are the ones who has the upper hand at the break, 21-15. But the 2nd half is all about the Reds where they continued to keep on scoring before being too good in the end as the new era under head coach Les Kiss is off to a great start with a comfortable victory on home soil, 40-22. Next weekend’s games will be under the one roof during the Super Round at AAMI Park in Melbourne with Crusaders v Waratahs on next Saturday night & Hurricanes v Reds next Sunday afternoon. Time will tell if the Australian teams really mean business this season since the NZ teams have entered into a completely new chapter with lots of musical chairs amongst coaches and even players over the course of the off-season.

Tate McDermott has been a revelation in the Reds attack at No.9 (half-back) whose performance tonight has played a key role in his team’s huge win v the Waratahs. He’s great communicating with his players while unleashing the pace and physicality every time the Reds has the ball on hand. All of this is so important in getting the job done when making the most of the counter-attack as this is how Les Kiss wanted the Reds to play and gotta say it’s so far, so good with McDermott vowing to keep that rebuilding phase onto the next step in the weeks to come. There’s another Reds player who will be there to bring back the glory is experienced Alex Hodgman on the front row at loosehead. He too benefitted from winning penalties where he has the tall reach & packed meat combined to plow himself past the Waratahs players with scrums and tries being won under his watch. There’s life after Taniela Tupou in the props when you got someone onboard who has previous Super Rugby experience in New Zealand and he could even play for the Wallabies too soon enough thanks to his Australian-born father.

And Mark Nawaqanitawase had a really long evening on the wide right for the Waratahs where he has outstanding vision as being tested in defense while he can get his side out of trouble every time the opportunity is there whenever the ball is right near or with him. There’s a reason why he’s more than a Super Rugby player in the Wallabies shirt as Mark will be missed when he will play for the Sydney Roosters in 2025 & 2026. Even though he did his best to try and stop the Reds from scoring, his side unfortunately wasn’t happy with the discipline/lost penalties before more mistakes went against them at his own end later on & this is something the Waratahs will need to watch out if they wish to get themselves back on track this season.

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Billy Vunipola was outstanding last night in the No.8 shirt for England at Suncorp Stadium. They definitely did his favours when not only he won them plenty of penalties but he was also destructive in the attack – especially after he ended up being the only tryscorer of the night. The sheer physicality he unpacked throughout the whole time alongside with a couple of his support numbers has definitely caused the Wallabies so much pain from the opposition end. It goes to show that England were well ahead within the winning circle under Vunipola‘s all-round ability to cause damage, as well as looking out defensively on the back row.

Next up is Owen Farrell at inside centre in the No.12 shirt for England. He’s always an excellent kicker towards the goal posts as always thanks to a number of winning penalties. The ill-discipline mistakes made by the Wallabies gave England plenty of ball opportunities going forward with patience before it made Farrell’s life easier to score from his kicking tee. He also has the pace & tackling to track back defensively before covering up the Wallabies as one of the support numbers while his England team build some phases. He continues to be an important presence for England at age 30 alongside his premiership-winning mindset that helped him deliver five titles & three European trophies for Saracens.

And great to see Taniela Tupou back in the Wallabies shirt on the tighthead front row after a while off the pitch from injury. He definitely gave England a huge threat with his packed muscle before Tupou opened the scoring account not long before half-time. Although he may have felt a metre short of the TRY line on when Tupou continued to do some damage, but the Wallabies got themselves through the gate for their second TRY with his assistance in none other than Samu Kerevi. Unfortunately, a lot of ill-discipline cost them plenty of points before it’s too late – especially when they missed a couple of key backline players to the treatment room.

#AUSvENG #Wallabies #England #Rugby #RugbyUnion #SuncorpStadium #InternationalRugby #TanielaTupou #OwenFarrell #BillyVunipola

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We are all set for a decider for the Ella-Mobbs trophy now going into the Sydney Cricket Ground next Saturday. England were well ahead with the Billy Vunipola opening TRY alongside a number of three-point penalty conversions into the goalposts. Although, the Wallabies scored two tries in between halves in order to try and stay in this game. However, it’s the messy discipline alongside a couple of missing key players have ultimately let them down. The final score is 17-25 to England as the Wallabies’ will have to wait a bit longer to take the series home, or else it will remain in England’s hands for another year.

It’s not been the night the Wallabies have hoped for in Brisbane. Yes, they got themselves up and running just in between the two halves when Taniela Tupou made a excellent threat with his packed muscle against the English going forward at tighthead (prop). He helped them score two tries on his first game back from injury – including one for himself right before half-time. Sadly, a lot of lost penalties with the ill-discipline cost the Wallabies plenty of points that was slipped away with England’s successive three-point kicks before it’s too late.

And congratulations to England with the win. They got themselves well ahead thanks to the Wallabies poor start with their ill-discipline, as well as their mis-aligned attack where they locked them up defensively. Not only Billy Vunipola was immense with his all-round prowess and execution at 8 but we also saw Owen Farrell’s near-perfect kicks into the goal every time they won penalties closer within the Wallabies danger zone.

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Jock Campbell has every reason to say why he’s an important member of the Queensland Reds backline in the wing and full-back roles, having re-signed a two-year contract extension. He was outstanding last night with two tries in the Opening 40. The credit is there from his team-mates when a mix of short passes and cross-kicks got the best of Campbell with pace, where he’s able to get the ball on time and plant it down on the TRY scoring area. And he can use the same attributes to when it comes to his defensive contribution. There’s a lot to look forward to from Jock going into next week v Crusaders, the Playoffs and the next two seasons; he’s also looking forward to help these Reds youngsters get used to Super Rugby level as well.

Speaking about future Reds stars, how about Josh Flook who filled in at outside centre last night alongside Hamish Stewart in the No.13 shirt. He just never stops running where Flook has been very destructive in the attack v Moana that helped his Reds side secure tries. Not only he can shield the Moana defense so Reds know where to plant down that bit of space, Flook can also run and beat one to two Moana players before he finds Fraser McReight with the assisted finish; now that is what we call it excellent communication and support play by the 20-year-old. Having played nearly every game so far this Super Rugby season across multiple backline roles, he hopes that his extended opportunities will help him hold the Crusaders accountable next Friday.

And you can’t underestimate Solomone Funaki’s physical aggression last night that made the Reds looked scared a couple of times for Moana Pasifika, where he plays No.6 at blindside flanker. He credits the teamwork there which helped him give a closer look of the Reds defense, especially when they’re attacking with the ball where a couple of his players worked well with Funaki together in all areas, so Moana know where to score. Unfortunately, a poor defensive response as well as some lost penalties held Moana back with the loss, despite the headstart after Funaki scored their opening try.

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It was a brilliant game to watch last night in Round 14 of the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific at Suncorp Stadium, as Queensland Reds welcome Moana Pasifika. Moana fired off early with the headstart before before the Reds fought back with three tries in the Opening 40 at 24-10. Although, Moana made up some lost time in the 2nd half with another two tries on the board. However, the Reds have done enough to hold Moana back & safeguard this match-up courtesy of Harry Wilson with the win, 34-22.

Congratulations to Queensland Reds with a much-needed win v Moana after a string of consecutive defeats v New Zealand teams, even though the match-ups they played v Chiefs & Highlanders were unlucky. They responded really well after the early Moana headstart with a brilliant first-half performance, especially when Jock Campbell collected back-to-back tries. Now they will still need to improve their 2nd half performance which is something the Reds must face up v Crusaders next Friday. They haven’t scored much later on until Harry Wilson safeguarded the Reds home with his 70th minute try, although Tate McDermott’s amazing finish to this game was denied by the ref over a forward pass from Seru Uru. But they still need to put a full-match performance if the Reds are going to shock the Saders, as well as enjoy an extended run in the Playoffs beginning in two weeks’ time.

Moana Pasifika would be disappointed with the loss there, having been a great opponent against the Reds which is how Super Rugby should be like each week of this competition. They got the early headstart after Solomone Funaki opened their scoring account, as well as a comeback in the 2nd 40 with two tries from their back row forwards in Sione Tuipulotu & Henry Stowers. But a poor defensive response and some lost penalties have restricted the most of Moana’s attacking opportunities, where the Reds ran them ragged in return with the loss. They have two games next week to finish off their inaugural Super Rugby campaign at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland; one is the rearranged fixture v Western Force on Tuesday, followed by the Brumbies on Saturday.

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One of Highlanders turning points during their 2nd half comeback is Folau Fakatava, who came on for Aaron Smith at half-back with 25 mins to go, and made an instant impact ever since. He was simply outstanding when Fakatava planted one assist and a TRY that helped his team move back on the Playoffs bubble in 8th spot with three regular games to go. He’s 22 with plenty of potential to be like Aaron over the next few years where Fakatava can be a real menace to defenders, especially when the Reds began to falter in the 2nd half and he took advantage of their decline that became his show on the pitch.

Next up is fellow Highlander Scott Gregory on the left wing at No.11. He credits the hard work from his forwards pack, who identified the Reds No.1 weakness which is the 2nd half and their finishing momentum. It gave them ample time to work things out with the ball before one Highlanders support runner covered the Reds up defensively, while Gregory did some damage where he laid an assist to Thomas Umaga-Jensen, as well as a TRY off the Folau Fakatava’s back hand pass that saw the Highlanders regain the lead later in the 2nd half. He just simply controls the game when dominating the attack with pace, as his services will be important towards helping his team stay in the Playoffs area with three regular games left.

And Lawson Creighton have no problems filling-in for the injured James O’Connor at the No.10 Reds shirt, where he played just like him when they were firing in the first half. He’s 23 with plenty of physicality to orchestrate the attack, such as that quick offload on the left short side to Jock Campbell, as well that cross kick also on the other short side to Josh Flook. These two scored tries all thanks to Creighton’s creative work, who is willing to learn and try to keep starting every week, so the Reds can continue to function with better competition in the years to come. But there’s still work to do when it comes to the 2nd half spell when they began to falter before the Highlanders came back to bite them.

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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.

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It was a terrific close match-up between the two sides that kickstarted Week 11 of the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific after 80 minutes of play. The first-half run saw the Queensland Reds & Chiefs share the lead at half-time, 13-13. Chiefs continued their resurgence where they regained top spot, while the Reds fought back as of late. The Semipeni Finau red card gave the Reds some glimmer of hope thanks to Hunter Paisami’s TRY with three minutes left, but they unfortunately ran out of time with a narrow two-point loss, 25-27.

Reds were unlucky to lose at Suncorp Stadium by two points to the Chiefs. They fired off slow and steady through the two three-point penalty goals off fly-half in Lawson Creighton before Harry Wilson opened the scoring account in the 30th minute at Number 8. Although, they were still in contention despite losing the lead later in the 2nd half, on top of another two tries from Josh Flook and the crucial consolation big score in Hunter Paisami, that gave his side some glimmer of hope with only five minutes to go. They were unlucky not to be given time in the end to upsurp the Chiefs, especially when Creighton failed to convert into the goalposts after Josh Flook’s TRY in the 51st minute. However, the ill-discipline robbed the Reds’ momentum where a couple of lost penalties and two yellow cards against them saw the Reds fell short.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs were on the same page as the Reds in the first half with a couple of penalty goals before Cortez Ratima leveled the scoresheets at half-time. But their last 40-minute momentum has to be the turning point, despite the Samipemi Finau red card in the 75th minute over a high tackle on Fraser McReight. They were so dangerous in attack when the Reds couldn’t stop them thanks to their ill-discipline, having regained & extended the lead with another two tries before they held off a difficult opponent through a sigh of relief towards full-time. Credit to Samisoni Taukei’aho at hooker, who completed an execution masterclass that got the Chiefs back in front, while Pita Sowakula extended their winning share where he handled the Reds well with the scrum feed and their defensive half. And Bryn Gatland’s kicking is top-notch as always without error through the goalposts 100%.

The Reds will be back at Suncorp Stadium when they take on the Highlanders from Dunedin next Friday, while the Chiefs will return home to Waikato in New Zealand next Saturday night v the ACT Brumbies.

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Pita Sowakula put in a fantastic display at Number 8 for the Chiefs tonight. He demonstrated so much physicality alongside his tall stature, which gave the Reds a tough time along the way on their home turf at Suncorp Stadium. Sowakula handled the scrummaging like spiderman when the Reds weren’t communicating well before he was legally allowed to wheel at the right time where the rewards paid off; that contribution led to winning penalties and an assist to Cortez Ratima’s TRY just before half-time. And there’s more of Sowakula when he extended the Chiefs’ winning margin a bit further, with credit from his team-mates from the backline, who shared the workload in the attack, so Sowakula made the Reds pay the price over ill-discipline from close range past the TRY line.

Next up is Bryn Gatland at fly-half, who was exceptional in the Chiefs shirt ever since he replaced Josh Ioane in Round 3 this season v Blues. He has a brilliant knack for kicking in all angles that sends a message to the other best five-eighths in New Zealand, having converted all of the Chiefs’ three-pointers and tries between the sticks. He’s also not shy when Gatland has the ball in hand, whether flattening up the attack or bumping into the Reds’ defensive territory. Even though he left the field after 80 minutes of hard work with a minor bruise on the cheek, he’s happy to be the Chiefs’ playmaking and kicking machine every week before sniffing around the All Blacks selection radar.

And Tate McDermott is one of the best Reds players to learn & get along when he first got his breakthrough a few years ago. He’s lightning quick with his pace and passing that got the Reds up and running, especially in the 2nd half when McDermott got around Quinn Tupaea with some room on the far short side and assisted Josh Flook’s TRY in the 51st minute. He also laid another assist to Hunter Paisami with less than five minutes to go, thanks to the Chiefs being down to 14 men due to the Samipeni Finau red card. But unfortunately, it just wasn’t his night when ill-discipline left the Reds too little, too late to usurp in the end.

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There’s one word to describe Tom Wright tonight; outstanding, even at full-back. He’s got so much speed to process when his Brumbies team found some holes where the Drua struggled after these missed chances, and Wright’s ready to punish them with the ball from start to finish. He sent a message to New Zealand teams following his two tries that there’s more to come from the man, who has Wallaby & NRL experience, to run them down soon.

The next Brumbies player to look at is Irae Simone on the inside midfield at No.12. Not only does he back up as one of the support players, but he can also be a menace to Drua when it comes to the executions that reflect his team’s strong start. His passing and reading look tip-top that require communication with team-mates to keep the ball in play; you saw Len Ikitau protecting him by shielding the Drua defense while they left the finishing directions to fly-half Rodney Ioda. He continues to be a valuable starter where Simone’s blessed to play around & assist tries that brought him to the best of his abilities, such as Tom Wright, Rob Valetini, Andy Muirhead & Nic White. It will be interesting to see what he has to offer in the coming weeks v New Zealand teams, as Simone hopes to add on top of his two Wallabies caps later this year.

And Onisi Ratave stood out for the Fijian Drua tonight after a full 80 minutes on the right-wing at No.14. He was always there to give himself a helping hand when being tested in attack and defense. It goes to show with the numbers around him, Ratave used his physical and pacey force that frustrated the Brumbies at times through his natural game, especially in the 2nd half. He credits his team-mates with the clear & concise read from the Brumbies defense being under pressure when Drua has the ball on hand, before Ratave took these finishing opportunities & scored these Tries twice that gifted his team big points. Imagine if this scoring spree happened from the beginning of the game; that would be awesome. However, a poor start left them too late with the loss tonight.

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