Longer break could be handy for wounded Reds
Friday April 23, 2010
Queensland Reds Head Coach Ewen McKenzie is hoping an extra day’s recovery this week will give selectors three more names to consider when picking the side to play the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday night.
Lock Van Humphries (ankle) and wing Rod Davies (hamstring) missed last night’s 16-13 defeat of top four target the Stormers at Suncorp Stadium, while the epic battle forced tighthead prop Laurie Weeks to hobble off with an injured foot.
McKenzie said Weeks will be reassessed next week but he is hopeful of being able to name him for the interstate encounter against a side they have never beaten on home soil.
This week’s eight day gap provides additional respite for the Reds after a gruelling fortnight of long distance travel and short turnarounds before the physical battles against the Bulls and Stormers and could mean Humphries and Davies also become available for selection.
“We’ll look at all three next week, but at this stage we remain hopeful they will be right. The longer turnaround has come at a good time,” McKenzie said.
The Reds kept their place in a tightly bunched Super 14 top four after beating the Stormers for the first time since 2003 in front of 30,259 fans. It was a record home crowd for the Reds against any South African team and the Reds’ biggest home crowd since playing the Waratahs at Suncorp in 2006 (38,947).
Unlike last week’s breathtaking, ball-in-hand assault on the Bulls, last night’s win was built on clever tactical kicking and hand-to-hand combat in defence.
The Stormers opened the scoring with a shock try but the Reds recovered to lead 16-7 midway through the second half and then had to withstand a determined onslaught by the Stormers.
The Reds had a chance to deny the Stormers a crucial bonus point when inspirational captain Will Genia powered through two tackles to seemingly score a try in the dying minutes of the match but the television match official ruled the ball had been held up by Springbok wing Bryan Habana.
Genia however was in no doubt he had grounded the ball before the rebound allowed Habana to slip his hand underneath.
“I thought I definitely scored. I felt it,” Genia said.
As in their victory over the Bulls last week, the Reds were valiant in their goal-line defence, holding the Stormers scoreless despite the South Africans having a mountain of possession on the Reds line.
“There has been a lot of talk about our attack but we haven’t had much of a reputation in defence,” McKenzie said last night.
“Tonight ended up being a really good test for us in that area. They (Stormers) were quite slippery and quite creative so we had to defend well. In the end we will take a lot of satisfaction out of the defensive work we’ve done.”
Outside centre Will Chambers scored the Reds only confirmed try from a pinpoint cross field kick by flyhalf Quade Cooper, who added three penalty goals and a conversion in a 50-50 night with the boot.
Chambers' centre partner Anthony Faingaa overcame an early head knock to produce another exemplary defensive display.
“We didn’t want to (bring him off) because he’s such an effective player for us, so we gave him a moment and he grabbed his composure before getting stuck into business,” McKenzie said.
“He has been very durable, very effective and a very impressive individual. He came off a little bit second best, but he finished the game.”
McKenzie said he was pleased with how the Reds responded when pushed, especially with their ability to handle the Stormers’ pressure at the breakdown.
“We found a way to win and that’s important. We will have moments or periods of time where we won’t dominate the game, but that’s normal. You can’t expect to be dominating all the time.
“The question is whether you can withstand the pressure and then apply something back. That’s the way of the game: you get your time with the ball and we did enough.”
The Reds made a sluggish start but ill-discipline from the Stormers and some desperate cover defence from the Reds meant they only found themselves down 7-6 at halftime.
Lock Andries Bekker scored the Stormers’ only try in the third minute.
The Reds have now played each South African team in their past five matches, winning four of the five.
2010 Rugby Super 14 Season - Round 11:
Queensland Reds 16 (Will Chambers try, Quade Cooper con, 3 pens) def. Stormers 13 (Andries Bekker try, Peter Grant con, 2 pens) @ Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane. Crowd: 30,259.
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