Reds vs Highlanders: Five things we learned

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

What can we take out of the Reds' massive upset over the Highlanders? 

1. The drought is broken

If anyone picked the Reds as the team to break Australian team’s recent run of losses against Kiwi sides, they’re probably lying. That’s not to take anything away from the Reds, if anything it makes Saturday’s victory even more spectacular. But break it they did and now they join the Brumbies as the only two Aussie sides to have a win over their trans-Tasman rivals. Their first win of the year, their sixth straight Brisbane win over the Highlanders and a victory over the defending champions. Not a bad night at the office.

2. Queensland can be more than just a good scrum

The Reds have a good scrum but can’t connect set piece to any meaningful attack. Except on Saturday night they proved that to be very wrong. Two tries in the opening 16 minutes, and a handful of other attacking chances, showed they do have the elements there and they can improve. We’ve all known Samu Kerevi and co can make metres and generate opportunities but against the Highlanders was the first time they actually showed anyone. Play on, Queensland.

3. Turning Japanese

Super Rugby has added a Japanese franchise this season but it's not just the Sunwolves bringing an Asian influence to the competition. The final stages of the Reds vs Highlanders match featured three Japanese internationals - Ayumu Goromaru and Hendrik Tui for the Reds and Fumiaki Tanaka for the Highlanders. All three had a major influence for their sides in the closing stages and showcased some of the talent they have.

4. Confidence by association

Saturday night was the first time this year the Reds have been able to play with both James Slipper and Liam Gill in their starting side. Both played the better part of a full match against the Highlanders and their class showed when required. Gill had a first half try and finished with seven tackles and two turnovers for the match, in an influential performance. While Slipper wasn’t necessarily decisive in his starting return, the flow-on effect of having the pair out there was clear across the side.

5. Red and gold?

Samu Kerevi  has been below his best this season but he burst back into form on Saturday night. Finishing with 161 metres and 16 carries, Kerevi played a hand in almost every attacking play on Saturday night. The 22-year-old was already in Test contention last season and if he continues to put in performances like that, it’ll be difficult for Michael Cheika not to hand him his first precious Wallabies jersey.