Two tries to nil
The Reds were fortunate to have escaped with a 18-12 win over the Hurricanes in their Super Rugby encounter in Brisbane on Friday.
"One of the strangest games I've played." That was Conrad Smith's verdict on the game, and it certainly was strange. For the last 20 minutes or so the Hurricanes camped deep in Reds' territory without scoring a point, bungling many opportunities. It was at least as much their bungling that kept them try-less as the Reds' defence. Not that the Reds were innocent of error.
It was not much of a spectacle at all. The heavy rains that have descended in Brisbane probably saw to that ,as both sides were guilty of numerous handling errors, as the ball was greasy.
In most of the game the Reds dominated the scrums and indeed scored a try off a Hurricane scrum but then a change of front-row personnel and a change of scrumhalf seemed to have solved their problems. But score they could not. For one thing Beauden Barrett missed three fairly easy kicks at goal, two of them hitting uprights.
But if you boil the result down, two tries to none looks a sensible victory. The two tries had been scored after 48 minutes. For the next 32 minutes the Reds did not look like scoring a try as the Hurricanes took over. The visitors nearly scored around the front of a line-out, but for an errant heel that stamped on the touchline. They nearly scored next to the posts but a tiny knock-on was detected.
It certainly was a match that the Hurricanes could have won but which they contrived to lose, leaving them with successive defeats.
The Hurricanes scored first when Quade Cooper was penalised at a tackle and Barrett goaled. 3-0 after 1 minute. Two minutes later Cooper levelled the scores and then nudged his side into a 6-3 lead which became 6-6 and then, after two Barrett misses, 9-6 to the Hurricanes after 19 minutes.
There was not much fun in all of this. But then the Reds put pressure on the Hurricanes and a poor clearance by TJ Perenara gave the home side a line-out on the Hurricanes' 22. They won the line-out, mauled and bashed. till Ben Lucas gave Digby Ioane a perfect pass and the wing squeezed in for a try. 11-9 after 23 minutes.
The Hurricanes had phases; the Reds defended. Julian Savea had a bit of an overlap, beat two and kicked ahead but the ball went over the dead-ball line. Half-time came at 11-9 after much lost possession and 13 penalties.
The Reds, dominating the scrums, wanted tries. They tapped a kickable penalty and then went in for pick-'n-drive till Rob Simmons knocked on. That gave the Hurricanes a scrum five metres from their line. The Hurricanes shoved them, took their ball and bashed at them again. Ben Tapuai burst and was close but it was Simmons who scored. Cooper converted. 18-9 after 48 minutes.
Barrett kicked a penalty goal to make it 18-12 with 25 minutes to play.
The Hurricanes went wide right and had a three-on-one situation but the middle player of the three, with options on either side, kicked, and the Reds survived.
The Hurricanes played to the front of a five-metre line-out and back but Motu Matu’u put his foot into touch before playing inside to Perenara.
The Hurricanes attacked on the left and Nick Frisby saved but conceded a five-metre scrum. From the scrum, the Hurricanes did all sorts of intricate things that ended with the ball on the ground. Copper threw it wildly back into his in-goal where Conrad Smith and Frisby dived for it. The referee referred to the TMO who detected a knock-on by Chris Smylie when the ball was on the ground.
The Hurricanes used a penalty to get a five-metre line-out but then overthrew the ball. Liam Gill, who otherwise had a splendid game, got the ball and tried a left-footed clearance kick which went horribly wrong. Savea got the ball and raced ahead. Conrad Smith was close. The Reds were penalised five metres from their line and Alapati Leiua took a tap kick but he lost the ball forward. The Reds got the ball back,. Cooper kicked it out and the Reds won the match.
Man of the Match: Despite that kick which could have lost his side the game our Man of the Match is Liam Gill who ran with the ball, tackled opponents, robbed them at turnovers.
For the Reds:
Tries: Ioane, Simmons
Pens: Cooper 2
For the Hurricanes:
Pens: Barrett 4
Reds: 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Ben Lucas, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Eddie Quirk, 5 Ed O'Donoghue, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper (captain), 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Greg Holmes.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Albert Anae, 18 Adam Wallace-Harrison, 19 Radike Samo, 20 Nick Frisby, 21 Mike Harris, 22 Luke Morahan.
Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Brad Shields, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Victor Vito, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Reggie Goodes, 18 James Broadhurst, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 James Marshall, 22 Reynold Lee-Lo.
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Andrew Lees (Australia), Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)
TMO: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)