Thorn slams Quirk red card as Reds cruise to win

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

Reds coach Brad Thorn has slammed the red card shown to Ed Quirk in his side's 48-27 win over the Sunwolves, labelling the alleged "closed fist" action as nothing more than a love tap.

It wouldn't be a Reds season finale without a controversial officiating decision but for once, Queensland were on the right side of the lottery which TMO interventions have become.

Referee Ben O'Keeffe has been a central figure in some of Super Rugby's most farcical decisions this year and he was, once again, the man that showed Quirk a red card in the 37th minute.

The former Reds flanker was sent for an early shower for an action which can only be described as a half hearted rugby league style facial, O'Keeffe deeming the "closed fist" action worthy of a red card.

Thorn vehemently disagreed with the decision, speaking from his own experience.

"For me, for a red card, it has to be something really big," Thorn told FOX SPORTS post match.

"That's what I've grown up with.

"I was playing in a Test match in Taranaki against the Irish and they got a red card - Jamie Heaslip - and as soon as that happened with 15 minutes to go, I was in the All Blacks on the field and it was game over.

"For me, it ruined the game.

"That was as a player - I didn't like it - and that was in a Test match, against my opponents.

"(Red cards) are for horrendous spear tackles, someone kicking someone on the ground, eye gouging horrendously or something - not love taps."

The contest was essentially killed from that moment onwards, with a penalty probably a more suitable form of punishment.

The Reds led their Japanese counterparts 22-13 at the time and Taniela Tupou stretched out to score moments before the half time siren sounded, squeezing the floodgates open in the process.

Prior to the farcical card there were some really positive signs for Reds fans.

Hamish Stewart's game management, general play kicking and running game provided a platform for his best start at flyhalf yet, Tupou was busting tackles for fun and JP Smith was similarly unstoppable as a metre eating machine.

The attack seemed to have some extra zip with Tate McDermott at the breakdown and the tries scored by Liam Wright, Eto Nabuli and Jono Lance were pay for persistent attacking pressure.

The second half was little more than an opposed training run for Queensland, as Stewart controlled the pace and territory of the match with some pinpoint kicks.Caleb Timu was shown a yellow card for a nasty hit in the second half. Photo: Getty ImagesNabuli nabbed a double, Sorovi stretched out for a try of his own and Duncan Paiaua erased the penalty try he gifted the visitors for a deliberate knockdown with a five pointer of his own.

The Sunwolves, to their credit, never stopped trying, and were rewarded with late consolation tries to Ryoto Nakamura and Jaba Bregvadze.

They probably should have been playing against 14 men for the entirety of the second half, too, after Caleb Timu was only shown yellow for a hit which appeared far worse than Quirk's attempted facial.

It was a fitting end to Queensland's season - glimpses of brilliance from their young core, some lazy second half defence and refereeing decisions which left plenty scratching their heads.


Reds 48

 Tries: Wright, Nabuli 2, Lance, Tupou, Paiaua, Sorovi

 Cons: Lance 5

 Pens: Lance

Sunwolves 27

Tries: Penalty Try, Nakamura, Bregvadze

Cons: Parker 2

Pens: Parker 2