JON CARDINELLI watched a physically superior Reds outfit overcome the Chiefs in an important 42-27 win in Brisbane.
There was a period between the 30th and 38th minute where the Chiefs scored three unanswered tries and threatened to run away with the game. But the plucky Reds remained composed despite the 22-8 deficit, and struck back either side after half-time.
The Reds scored five tries in all against a side that up until this match had boasted the best defence in the tournament. Sunday’s match marked the first four-try bonus point of the season for the Reds, and the first time the Chiefs had conceded four or more tries.
The Chiefs were guilty of complacency in last week’s match against the Lions, and were made to pay for their mental lapses on this occasion. They stopped working at the collisions and breakdowns following that three-try burst as they probably felt the win was in the bag.
But the Reds kept on coming, and a brave piece of captaincy by James Horwill got the hosts back into the game right before the break.
Horwill turned down a kickable penalty and the Reds forwards controlled the ball well before it flew to Ben Lucas for a game-changing score.
The Reds built on this momentum after the break, keeping the ball close and punishing some slack Chiefs defending. Scott Higginbotham crashed over from close range and the cool goal-kicking of Mike Harris levelled the scores.
A piece of individual brilliance by Will Genia earned the hosts the lead, as the Wallabies scrumhalf first darted from the base and then outstripped the cover defence. It was a try not unlike the cracker Genia scored in last year’s final, and importantly in the context of the current season it earned the Reds a bonus point.
The Chiefs continued to battle at the breakdowns and collisions, with openside flank Liam Gill causing the visitors’ plenty of problems. Referee Marius Jonker missed a lot of infringements on both sides, but ultimately the Chiefs will regret not protecting the ball. Turnovers compromised their defence on this occasion.
Their lineout also had a forgettable outing. Conversely, the Reds were in fine form at this set piece, and it was from a lineout where they set a powerful and unstoppable maul. Saia Faingaa burrowed over to score the Reds’ fifth try, and from this point the game was Queensland’s to lose.
The Chiefs managed to score one more try through Asaeli Tikoirotuma, a score that earned them a bonus point. But there was just no stopping the Reds juggernaut, and Harris added a further drop goal and penalty to put the result beyond doubt.