Reds vs Force: Five things we learned

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

The Force kept their season alive while squashing any chance the Reds had of playing finals football at Suncorp Stadium tonight.

Here are five things we learned from the 40-26 result.

1. Desperation rings true

Both teams had their seasons on the line but only one team played like that tonight.

The Force were at their desperate best, outworking Queensland at the breakdown, set piece and in support play.

They nullified George Smith's impact at the breakdown by making sure they were always supporting their runners and the Reds subsequently struggled defensively.

Dave Wessels preaches the importance of playing smart rugby each week and he got that from his side tonight.

2. Different year, same old story

Michael Ruru was in fine form. Photo: Getty ImagesThe Force have been Queensland's bogey side since they tempted a host of Reds castoffs to head west in their inaugural season and that held true tonight.

Nick Stiles knows the psychology all too well but he hasn't been able to fix his home state's woes against the Force.

Whether it's the Reds taking the clash lightly is only something those at Ballymore will know but the Force seemed to be in control for the majority of the match.

The recipe of relentless breakdown pressure, taking the points on offer and territorial football has got the job done in previous years and it got the job done tonight.

3. Where'd all the fans go?

Just 12,040 turned out to watch this must-win clash tonight - a worrying sign for the front office staff at Ballymore.

The Reds haven't clocked 20,000 this year - a figure they easily surpassed on a weekly basis in the golden era.

They've played some pretty average rugby this year and fans are starting to turn away.

4. Aimless kicks must go

Nick Frisby is the chief culprit and he has lost some punch from a box kick that was piercing last season.

There is too much ball going down the opposition's throat.

Quade Cooper was one of Queensland's better players tonight. Photo: Getty ImagesThe Force hardly have the weapons to make the Reds pay but kicking the ball away while in the attacking half cannot be recommended unless it results in a lineout five metres from the opposition try line.

Turnover ball is as good as gold but kicking it away without assessing the defensive line is also far from the "heads up" rugby we see across the ditch.

Kicks in those two scenarios cost the Reds attacking opportunities tonight and eventually, their season.

5. Coleman gets under Moore's skin

Stephen Moore jumped to his feet quicker than the Reds fans leaving the stadium with five to play when Adam Coleman sent a particularly nasty sledge his way in the second half.

After getting split up, the Wallabies skipper went back for a second crack at Coleman, who will be his teammate in a fortnight's time.

Moore could be seen mouthing "don't you ******* say that again" when he had a go at him for the second time.

Fox Sports' Sean Maloney asked Coleman about it post match but he didn't wish to reveal what was said.

Looks like it could have been a fair bit more than your average sledge.