Reds vs Highlanders: Five things we learned

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

The Reds dropped a frustrating encounter against the Highlanders on Saturday night.

Here's what we're talking about after the 18-15 result.

1. Higginbotham hits nail on head

A visibly frustrated Scott Higginbotham hit the nail on the head on Fox Sports in his post match interview.

The Reds skipper delivered some home truths, demanding better composure from his side in tight finishes.

Queensland look lost when matches come down to the death and poor game management combined with ill discipline gifted the Highlanders the late second half territory from which Lima Sopoaga slotted the match winning penalty.

Higginbotham said his side "did everything they could to lose" the match and while there were some moments of brilliance, it's hard to argue with him.

2. Perese powers into Wallabies calculations

Izaia Perese is back at his best. Photo: Getty ImagesIzaia Perese has arrived in 2018.

After a partial tear to his ACL cruelled the first three months of his season, Perese returned to the starting XV in spectacular fashion.

Let's start with his stat line - 12 runs for 83 metres, seven tackle busts, two line breaks and three offloads.

Throw in seven tackles with to his lightning leg pumping carries and you have a player ready to perform on rugby's biggest stage.

His run in the 73rd minute from turnover ball deep in Queensland's 22, where he burst through Highlanders defenders and brought the Suncorp crowd to its feet with a 50 metre run before being bundled into touch, was simply exhilarating.

3. Reds fans losing patience with Lucas

Ben Lucas is a source of frustration for Reds fans. Photo: Getty ImagesHe may be acting on team orders but Ben Lucas' box kicks are neither effective nor clever.

They take too long to set up and Queensland are not contesting them, which begs the question - why use them as an exit tactic in the first place?

The most perplexing kick of all came halfway through the first term, when the Reds had numbers to his left and with just 25 metres between the breakdown and the Highlanders line, Lucas elected to box kick into the Highlanders corner.

The kick was cleaned up and sent 30 metres back over his head, killing all momentum.

4. Lineout woes tell tale

Queensland's lineout has been hot and cold all season but two critical throws cost the Reds dearly.

The first, which Brandon Paenga-Amosa overcooked 10 out from Queensland's line, gave the Highlanders the ball from which Tevita Li scored the first try of the night.

The second was from the hands of Andrew Ready with five to play, Sopoaga slotting the match winning penalty two minutes later.

Two critical moments which cost Queensland eight of the 18 points they conceded.

5. Crowd cause for concern

Just over 11,000 fans turned up at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

Long gone are the days of Queensland regularly enjoying crowds of 20,000 plus but they will be hoping for a figure near that when they face the Waratahs this time next week.