Sunday, 4 March 2012

3701HUM Sports Journalism Event Review Two – Ryan Cook: Queensland Reds vs. Western Force

(Rain falls as the Reds prepare for a lineout)

The defending champions mightn’t have had the weather on their side, but in amongst a Radike Samo sprint and Mike Harris’ pinpoint foot, the Queensland Reds have plenty to boast about following last night’s 35-20 win over the Western Force.

In their first home game of the 2012 Super Rugby season, 33,563 fans faced the drizzle to witness the Reds take on their Western rivals, minus injured superstar Quade Cooper. In the end Samo’s 60m interception turned foot-dash was the difference on the board -- but even with two straight losses next to their name, the Force still gave Ewen McKenzie’s side plenty to think about in postgame discussions.

Reds flyhalf Mike Harris was a perfect nine from nine on the night, and has quickly earned the respect of almost every Super Rugby fan watching. Still, the Reds were quick to downplay last night’s triumph, instead focusing on the defensive errors that allowed the Force to cut a 20-point lead down to six in the second half.

Among the hot topics, the Reds tackling remains an early issue for McKenzie to address at training. Force captain David Pocock chopped through the Reds sloppy arm tackles on the way to perhaps his easiest try of the season, only to be followed by James Stannard moments later to steal some brownie points for the Westerners.

There was also a bunch of Reds penalties that Queensland could have done without. In total, 27 points were decided thanks to the referee, while Samo and Ben Tapuai scored the Reds only tries of the evening.

(The Reds battle for the ball in their own half)
In hindsight though, all signs point towards another promising season if you’re counting your cards early. Countless times the Reds found themselves with acres of space last night, and if it wasn’t for slippery conditions, Queensland easily could have had two extra tries on the sheet if passes linked up.

On the other end, the Force weren’t without their own errors either. Young reserve Angus Cottrell gave up two big penalties in the final minutes of play, ending any chance of a Force comeback down 15-points. The rest of the team also threw away first half opportunities which could have made the difference -- leaving the Reds Western rivals at the bottom of the ladder after Week 2.

Queensland prepares for a second home game at Suncorp Stadium next week when they face the Melbourne Rebels, a team that the Reds outscored 86-21 in total last year.

 The Rebels fly north after recuperating from a 16-point home flop against the Waratah’s this past weekend, and hope to put together a much more solid display throughout the entire 80-minutes.

After succumbing to New South Wales’ pressure on Saturday, the Rebels also appear to be hurting without Kurtley Beale, who is sidelined with a hamstring injury. If the Rebels took anything away from their game against the Waratah’s though, it’s that Melbourne should be aware of the Reds front line – especially after compiling two big tries in successive weeks.
**Flyhalf Mike Harris slots his second kick of the night. 

Game Notes: 
Date: 3 March, 2011
Time: 6:30pm
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
Teams: Queensland Reds vs. Western Force
Attendance: 33,563

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