Rugby in the Southern Hemisphere is finally back in action, albeit with just the two Friday night matches from Australia this weekend. The Reds hosted the Waratahs with plenty of talking points and was followed by the Force who finally got to play at home and welcomed the Brumbies to town in Perth. Lets take a look at the games.
REDS 41 vs 7 WARATAHS
The Reds came into this game as firm favourites against the Waratahs but it was the visitors who broke the deadlock first and it took just a few minutes for new captain Jake Gordon to open the account in the left corner. It was smart play by the scrumhalf who followed the play across the field and found himself in space from Jack Maddocks half break and an on the ground offload. That was to be the last moment of joy for the Waratahs however as the Reds firmly took over the game after that.
While Jordan Petaia was caught short defensively in the opening try, he certainly made up for it soon after. The first Reds points came off the boot of James O’Connor and quickly after Petaia sparked a play from their own half, keeping the ball alive through hands and finding the pace of Jock Campbell to finish for the Reds and put them into the lead for the first time.
The Reds continued the dominate the gain line following the try and made easy meters up the field and into the Waratahs twenty-two in a flash. Less than five minutes after their first try, the Reds were in again, Alex Mafi tipping the cap to his 50th cap by charging over off a short pass to extend the lead.
We were less than twenty minutes into the game and the Reds struck for a third time and signalled troubling times for the Waratahs. That combination of Petaia and Daugunu at it again from deep. TMO had been busy during the first half, with both Campbell’s and Daugunu’s tries being looked at for possible forward passes but were decided OK from upstairs.
With half time calling, things went even worse for the Waratahs. Midfielder Izaia Perese picking up Hunter Paisami and dumping him on his head to give a clear call for the referee to dish out the first card of the season and it was red for Perese. Of course with the new laws in Super Rugby AU, after twenty minutes Perese would be allowed to be replaced.
The game dragged its way into the break with the Reds in control at 27-7.
The match changed in the second half as the Reds knew they had complete control of the fixture. A man advantage for almost half of the second forty and a strong twenty point lead, they slowed the game down and forced the Waratahs to bring the game to them and make something happen.
That remained the case until the final ten minutes when a set piece chance proved too tasty for the Reds to ignore. Off the back of the scrum Moses Sorovi scampered away to the right and dropped the ball on the superb inside line from Daugunu, completely missed from the Waratahs defence and let a clean run for the sparkling winger to grab his second try of the match and to put this far beyond doubt.
The cherry on top was added by debutant Ilaisa Droasese who flew over on the right edge after his side just let things fly at the end of the match. A first appearance and a try to go with it, things couldn’t have got much better for the Reds. The score line was never close once the Reds got things going.
An early fright from the Waratahs was the only highlight for the visitors and the Reds controlled the game as many expected. A bonus point win and a cracking first up display that O’Connor thought left plenty to improve on…. that’s a scary thought.
The Reds pack deserves most of my credit. Seru Uru, Fraser McReight and Harry Wilson were all fantastic for the Reds.
For the Waratahs it was Jake Gordon who led from the front and was sorely missed when he went off injured. New comer Carlo Tizzano was also impressive tonight.
The biggest win ever for the Reds over the Waratahs and the perfect start to the Reds season. Now how is their consistency?…. We find out next week, But a bonus point win is the ultimate way to kick off a season.
FORCE 11 vs 27 BRUMBIES
Its been such a long time between drinks at home for the Force but the day has finally come! The crowd were buzzing and the expectation was intriguing! The defending champion Brumbies will always be a tough side to match up with regardless of venue, but this is a great opportunity for the Force, both sides starting off with tidy committed play. A late change saw Richard Kahui into the starting line up in place of Kyle Godwin.
The Force are first onto the scoreboard after just five minutes, grabbing the penalty from the boot of Ian Prior. The more encouraging factor however was the clean carries from key new players in the Force lineup, Medrano, Lezana and Kearney all having time with ball in hand.
Both sides blew chances to add points soon after. The Brumbies set about their typical rolling maul five meters out but someone’s changed that channel as the Force manage to halt it and force the Brumbies to use the backs. The created chance finds Hansen clear out wide but the pass was called forward on the field by the ref, something we didn’t see in the opening match.
The Force ruck ball was lightning quick and caused the Brumbies defence all sorts of trouble, catching them offside and out of position. That gave the chance to double their score line but Prior’s attempt struck back off the upright and the Brumbies escaped, got a free ride of penalties up the field and Noah Lolesio was gifted his first shot at goal which he easily put home for 3-3.
The Brumbies finally struck over the line midway through the half, Nic White dancing on the twenty two, zig zagging in and out of defenders and slipping a short flat pass to an extraordinary line from Noah Lolesio who went in unopposed. The Force has perhaps been the better side but they have started losing their shape and pace in the game, which will cause much concern at half time.
The Force pick up a huge second wind just after the thirty minute mark and completely regain control of the game. The quick ball is back, the penalties are flowing and the Force are going only to the corners. They drive continually at the line and eventually crash over but the referee disallows the try for a double movement. The dream of half time oranges is driving the Force back into the attacking zone again, but sensibly this time take the three points to bring them within four.
After all the hard work from the Force, they let the Brumbies right back in with a penalty right on the stroke of half time.
A run of errors by the home team in the last few minutes will leave a sour taste for the half time break with the score at 13-6.
Its the start of dreams for the Brumbies in the second half. Len Ikitau carves the defensive line with precision and finds the cut inside from his midfield partner Irae Simone to slide in for the try. The Force defence has looked in control so far but was caught out with the acceleration of Ikitau to give the Brumbies a controlling lead for the first time.
Despite the score line, the Force have been right in this match up and may have finally got a chance to turn some more chances into points as James Slipper is sent to the bin after his side has received many “final warnings” from the referee. The crowd is full of energy but the Force struggle to make the finishing plays, even a man up.
Rugby is a game of fine margins and the Force’s lack of ability to finish off their chances and domination of possession and territory throughout the second half will be a massive disappointment to the side. The Brumbies on the other hand, lack none of those issues. Issak Fines-Leleiwasa showing some silky skills and the major difference between the two sides, finishing. From the scrum, Tom Banks line and speed scorches past a labouring Kahui and creates the overlap. 27-6 and game done in the final ten minutes.
But that is not excuse for the Force who never lack for determination and giving it a crack regardless of score or game situation. Tomas Cubelli gets the credit for the try, but it was all created by the forwards who won the ball off their own kick off and quickly set about working in the red zone. This time keeping it tight and working close to the line, it was Cubelli’s sharp work around the fringe that creates the first try for the Force.
The Force battled to the very end, controlling even more key passages of the game but just cant find the lollies at the end. Even after the final buzzer, the forwards battled close to the Brumbies line but failed to keep the ball in hand. A lot of promise, but the Brumbies just too clinical with the chances created.
Standout performer from the home Force side was Fergus Lee-Warner who carried hard all night long, constantly meeting the gain line and defended with power. The Force didn’t have too many standout and played better as a squad as it went on but also plenty to work on. Rob Kearney was a clear talent at this level and a big improvement for the Force at the back with some classy touches.
For the Brumbies Cayden Neville was a thorn in the Force side all night long. Disrupting ruck ball, defusing mauls and being a general nuisance throughout the game. One of those guys who isn’t flashy but the impact he had on the match was massive. So many Force errors were made because of his impact.
Not what the Force would have wanted as a result and exactly what we expected from the Brumbies in round one. The Force will get better and I feel will trouble the Waratahs and Rebels at this stage. Its a two horse race at the top already, Brumbies and Reds are the teams to beat!
Previews and reviews are right here Behind The Posts for each and every round of Super Rugby AU! Rugby is back in Australia! Let me know your thoughts on the action this weekend in the comments and thanks for stopping by Behind The Posts. If you would like to have your say here, get in touch on the contact page today!