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.