Reds v Crusaders: Five things we learned

Super Rugby
by Emma Greenwood

The Reds have lost 22-12 to the Crusaders at Suncorp Stadium as the Super Rugby champions extend their record-breaking unbeaten run to 18 matches.

Here are the talking points from the match.

1. The Crusaders are on a level of their own

Plenty was expected from the Reds after their fighting efforts against the Highlanders in their round two season-opener in Dunedin, with many expecting they would push the Crusaders at Suncorp Stadium.

But they were left chasing their tails from the kick-off, with the visitors posting two tries in the opening 10 minutes.

Brad Thorn's team did well to prevent a blowout from there but never threatened to win and need to find greater consistency if they are to continue to improve.

2. Handling errors and turnovers killed Reds' chances

The Reds have a no excuses policy this season and will not blame the intermittent rain and a wet ball for the handling errors that cruelled their chances of competing.

One of the most frustrating things for the home side was their inability to put real pressure on the Crusaders because of a lack of possession.

When they did manage to string phases together the Reds posed a threat. But simple turnovers, pushed passes land another poor kicking game left them unable to show play at the level their hard-won fitness and tactical  nous will allow them to when they finally hold on to the pill. 

3. Will key players be available for Waratahs clash?

Jordan Petaia clutches at his foot after wrenching it in a tackle against the Crusaders at Suncorp Stadium. Photo: Rugby AU Media/Stuart WalmsleyHe was the name on everyone's lips after their season-opener after his sparkling performance in the centres but Jordan Petaia was the focus for a different reason on Saturday night after limping off Suncorp Stadium inside the first 20 minutes with a foot injury.

After twisting his foot and ankle awkwardly when taking the ball up early in the match, Petaia spent the remainder of the first half icing his foot on the sidelines before reappearing in a moon boot in the second term.

Thorn said the extent of the injury was not yet known but the boom colt looks an unlikely starter for the Waratahs clash, while fullback Bryce Hegarty played more than 40 minutes with a popped rib and could also be in doubt.

4. In forwards we trust

The Reds put their trust in their lineout against the Crusaders. Photo: Rugby AU Media/Stuart WalmsleyCaptain Samu Kerevi showed the faith he has in his forwards when opting against a kick at goal from a penalty late in the first half, instead putting the ball into touch and relying on his men to win a lineout that eventually led to a try that kept the Reds in the contest at halftime.

It's the type of move Reds fans can expect to see often this season, with Kerevi saying after the match he not only trusted the ability of his forwards to win the ball but believed fans deserve an attractive style of play. 

5. Reds scrum still a work in progress

The Reds highly regarded scrum was taught a lesson by a Crusaders pack including All Black front rowers Joe Moody and Owen Franks but Thorn hopes it will prove aspirational to his forwards.

Thorn wants his men exposed to the best in the business and hopes the likes of loosehead prop Feao Fotuaika, who performed so strongly on debut against the Highlanders, will take plenty from the experience.

JP Smith performed strongly in his return from a knee injury and could come into calculation for a starting spot against the Waratahs next week.