Reds give glimpse of future in hoodoo-busting win over Sharks

Super Rugby
by Emma Greenwood

Reds coach Brad Thorn says his team's hoodoo-busting win in Durban has given a glimpse of the future possible as Queensland continues a promote-from-within culture.

Queensland broke a 15-year drought in Durban when they beat the Sharks 21-14 in a thriller at Kings Park, with 21-year-old flanker Liam Wright pilfering the ball after the final siren to ensure the win.

One of seven players in the pack aged between 20-22, Wright is among the faces of the Reds' future and stepped up to help Queensland shoot to second place on the Australian conference ladder - at least until Saturday night.

Thorn has a saying: It's a long way to go to South Africa, just to lose.

The dual international said it would have been "unacceptable" to have come away from the tour with nothing to show for it after last week's disappointing loss to the Bulls in Pretoria.

And it's an effort Thorn he hopes will set the tone for his group going forward as they bid to become more consistent at Super Rugby level.

"We're very pleased with that, it's important for our season," Thorn said.

"To come to Africa, to go back with nothing wouldn't have been acceptable.

Tate McDermott scores to help the Reds to a Super Rugby win against the Sharks in Durban. Photo: AFP

"We were really disappointed with last week. Credit to the Bulls but we were our own worst enemies (last week) and today we turned up with our focus to do our own jobs individually and collectively as a team.

"We didn't want to get back on the plane without having something to take back with us."

But as much as the competition points are important, Thorn hopes the win sets a benchmark for a team full of young players still battling to find the consistency required to become a Super Rugby force.

"For me, it's not so much the game (result in isolation), it's just consistency," he said.

"The next game will be very important - we've got to get to a point where we have a line in the sand and say, this is our standard, and not drop back from that, so that (Sunwolves game) will be a challenge for us.

"A lot of these lads, I've coached them in U20s and NRC, so I've coached some of these guys for the last four years.

"There's some character there. They're learning stuff about being professionals.

"The potential where they're going to go the next few years, I think, is really exciting.

"What we're trying to do now is being professional, preparing well every week, having routine and getting the consistency at Super Rugby level."

Thorn is a great believer in promoting from within for players that have put in the effort.

"For me it's the life blood," he said.

Hamish Stewart is caught by a Sharks defender in the Reds' 21-14 win in Durban. Photo: AFP

"I played rugby league at the (Brisbane) Broncos, we all came through, the Crusaders, when I played there, they brought their guys through there.

"Queensland supplies so much talent, we want to keep it and harness it.

"I think people are enjoying seeing all this fresh blood come through.

"The club's been battling away for five years, it's time to bring the lads through and as you see, they're having their moments."

After pushing out to a 21-7 lead when Tate McDermott dashed over in the 59th minute, the Reds conceded a try two minutes from time and then a penalty from the restart and had to rely on a turnover after the siren to seal the win.

Fittingly, that came from flanker Liam Wright, one of the young Reds forwards who stood up to a huge Sharks pack expected to dominate them.

Just minutes earlier, Wright had thrown himself under the ball as the Sharks threatened to roll over the line in the dying minutes to get within striking distance.

"He had a great game, Liam Wright," Thorn said.

"He's from Durban and he got over the ball for the last play of the game to win the game. Probably a thanks to Durban for giving me one of your lads there, he's done a good job."

Queensland captain Samu Kerevi, widely expected to be rested from this second leg of the South African tour, was outstanding, making 21 runs, a clean break that led to a try for centre partner Chris Feauai-Sautia and four offloads in attack.

But in what was a turnaround from the insipid defensive effort that led to their demise against the Bulls last week, he was part of a team-wide concentration on defence that helped the Reds back into contention in the Australian conference.

Samu Kerevi was in the thick of everything again. Photo: AFP

The Reds were desperate to make amends for their horror performance in Pretoria last week and showed their intent early, racing to a 7-0 lead after Alex Mafi charged on to a loose ball at the back of the lineout and found Bryce Hegarty, who raced through a yawning gap to score and convert his own try within two minutes of the kick-off.

The Sharks opted against a shot at goal following a penalty after 15 minutes, believing they would dominate the Reds pack.

But they were made to pay after turning the ball over, Kerevi making a break and finding Feauai-Sautia running a perfect line, with the Reds up 14-0 inside 20 minutes.

Fancying themselves against a young Reds pack, including raw-boned loosehead Harry Hoopert, the Sharks again opted against a conversion attempt from the penalty and this time were rewarded, when hooker Kerron van Vuuren planted the ball after the Sharks maul drove over the line.

They botched two tries late in the term though, in efforts that would come back to haunt them.

Kerevi's incredible involvement continued in the second half and he initiated the move that led to their third try, to McDermott.

The Reds were despicable in last week, missing 35 tackles, an effort that led defensive coach Peter Ryan to suggest they would have 50 points put on them if they turned in a repeat in Durban.

But they found the starch that had been missing in Pretoria and met every challenge thrown at them by the Sharks.

A desperate Wright threw himself under the ball as the Sharks threatened to roll over the line inside the final few minutes to get within striking distance.

Taniela Tupou was among a Reds pack that performed exceptionally well against the Sharks. Photo: Getty Images

They had another chance though and Daniel du Preez scored in the 78th minute, before Harry Hockings conceded a penalty from the restart to give the home side a last-ditch chance to win the match before Wright pilfered the ball.

In concerning news for both the Reds and Junior Wallabies, winger Jack Hardy limped off early in the second half with a knee injury.

RESULT

Reds 21

Tries: Bryce Hegarty, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Tate McDermott

Cons: Hegarty 2, Hamish Stewart

Sharks 14

Tries: Kerron van Vuuren, Daniel du Preez

Cons: Robert du Preez, Curwin Bosch

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