Reds vs Jaguares: Five things we learned

TAS Premier
by Emma Greenwood

The Reds lost 34-23 to the Jaguares at Suncorp Stadium, although they had an opportunity to steal the game until the dying stages.

Here's what we're talking about after the match.

1. The Reds are better than their record shows

The loss to the Jaguares snuffed out any mathematical hope the Reds had of making the finals, extending their period in the Super Rugby wilderness to six years. It will be little comfort to the coaching staff or players that they are not far off the pace given they will finish close to the bottom of the ladder and have to continue their rebuilding efforts next season due to the loss of several players.

Near enough is not good enough for the Reds, nor should it be. That said, they are not far off the pace and having tightened their defence, if they can find a way to be more creative in attack - both in philosophy and practice - there is light on the horizon.

2. The Jaguares are the real deal

There's been plenty of argument in recent weeks about whether the Jaguares deserve their place in the competition given they are practically a Test team in disguise. But they are here and will be a part of the post-season competition having been a dominant force in the South African conference.

While the Reds won in Buenos Aires last year, they were unable to transfer that result to Suncorp Stadium, leaving the Jaguares unbeaten in six matches in Australia.

Unlike the Australian, New Zealand and South African franchises, who have all rested key players ahead of the World Cup, the Jaguares have continued to push for results in an effort that could yet impact on the Pumas in Japan later this year.

Their effort against the Reds wasn't the most compelling case for Super Rugby dominance - but they'll be there at the pointy end this season in what could be a defining moment for the franchise.

Bryce Hegarty in action with a swathe of empty seats behind him. Photo: Getty Images

3. Kicking remains an issue for Queensland

Poor kicking in general play was highlighted more than once early in the season and it remains an issue the Reds need to address. Failing to find touch from inside their own 22 or making such poor distance with clearing kicks it hardly matters; and kicking without purpose remain major issues for the Reds.

It is an area of their game that has improved - but it's still a fundamental area of the game in which the Reds are poor. When there's a good kick - such as Samu Kerevi's drive behind the Jaguares' defensive line and deep into their territory early in the second half - it not only sets the team up but serves as a reminder of the poor standard usually accepted.

4. The Reds' crowds are on the wane

Just 8756 fans watched the Reds take on the side that could walk away with the Super Rugby title this season in another poor turnout at Suncorp Stadium. An enclave of Argentinians was all that separated it from the 8600 that took in the game against the Sunwolves in Japan, while the match against the Stormers also attracted fewer than 10,000 people.

It's a far cry from the more than 30,000 that regularly flocked to watch the Reds in the heady days after their Super Rugby title win. But it's also fixable.

Forget if you built it, they will come; if the Reds just start winning, the crowds will follow.

matt McGahan is worth another look fro the Reds after impressing in his opening games for the club. Photo: Getty Images

5. Matt McGahan is worth a longer look

It's the time of year that decisions are being made about contracts and Matt McGahan is showing signs that he deserves to be in Brad Thorn's long-term plans. Just as he found Alex Mafi with a pinpoint left-foot kick for a try against the Waratahs on debut, MacGahan kicked wide early in the match to help launch a Reds raid, providing the type of width that is often lacking from Queensland's game.

McGahan was signed only for the 2019 season and has spent much of the year rehabilitating a broken leg. But he has showed in just a few games this season that he possesses the on-field ability and communication skill to be a valuable asset for the team going forward.

With several players moving on at the end of the season, McGahan's experience could be key to what will be a young side moving forward.