Waratahs vs Reds: Five things we learned

Super Rugby - AU
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Waratahs collected their biggest Super Rugby win over the Reds at the SCG on Saturday night.

What are we talking about after that 45-12 victory?

1. Super Rugby AU finals race heating up

There is still life in this competition yet. Before round six, the Brumbies and Reds looked like the two clear standout teams from the first half of the competition.

On Thursday, Waratahs coach Rob Penney was asked whether he was still even enjoying coaching after some frustrating weeks at the NSW helm.

The Rebels had been forced into some reshuffles across the board and backed in relative rookie Andrew Deegan against the table-topping Brumbies.

A little over two days later, the Brumbies and the Reds have both been torn apart by teams who jumped out of the blocks and racked up the tries.

The Waratahs’ win was their largest-ever Super Rugby win over the Reds and their second-highest score against Queensland.

That result put them equal third on points with the Reds but ahead of their interstate rivals in third spot.

The Rebels’ win pushed them into outright second on the ladder.

Suddenly, the Brumbies are just a regulation win clear on top, with a bye to come next week, while the Reds’ round seven clash against the Rebels looms as a must-win for their season.

With four weeks to go in the regular season, there’s still plenty to play out in Super Rugby AU.

Bring it on.

2. Gordon brings the zip and the finish

Jake Gordon made a huge difference to the Waratahs lineup on Saturday night.

Gordon set the tone for some up tempo rugby from the get go, with quick delivery from the ruck and some impressive running with ball in hand.

A well-executed box kick early in the piece helped the Waratahs gain the territory that ultimately led to his first try.

By the half-hour mark Gordon had a hat-trick and he had helped the Waratahs jump out of the blocks and ultimately to a record Super Rugby victory over Queensland.

His energy was infectious in a team that looked as confident as it has all year, looking for creative options in attack and making them stick.

After dropping off the radar and battling a hamstring injury this year, Gordon certainly sent out a message to the rest of the Super Rugby AU competition that he is still a Test contender.

3. Lineout wobbles putting Reds out of kilter

The Reds had plenty of problems on Saturday night but their lineout is particularly troublesome for them each week.

In the opening minutes, Brandon Paenga-Amosa sent a throw far too long that ended up in Michael Hooper’s hands.

While that didn’t immediately cause them pain, the Waratahs were able to ultimately capitalise on the opportunity with a Gordon try that sparked a 45-point unanswered run from the Waratahs.

They lost four lineouts overall for the night, including that one, leaving them with a 73.4 per cent win rate for the Super Rugby AU season.

That success rate is well below that of the rest of the competition, with the fourth-placed Brumbies at 80.4 per cent.

It’s a concern that has already been costly for the Reds and as teams continue to target that area of their game, the greater the need will be for Queensland to address it once and for all.

4. Ramm settling into Super Rugby

I like it. A lot.. #SuperRugbyAU #WARvRED

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Not many people would have known the name James Ramm at the start of 2020 but the Waratahs winger has really shown his potential since coming into the side.

He showed some glimpses of his potential in Super Rugby earlier this season but he has been consistently one of the side’s best since the domestic competition kicked off.

The 22-year-old didn’t nab a try against the Reds but a pinpoint chip kick on the left edge opened the door for a Gordon try and he positioned himself well all night.

In just his first Super Rugby season, there is plenty more to come from him too.

5. Emotional events put Reds loss squarely in perspective 

Some unwanted records rumbled for Queensland at the SCG but this week probably as much as any other, perspective on rugby was quickly found.

Rising star Jordan Petaia did not travel with the team to Sydney on Saturday and was withdrawn from the 23 in the wake of his father Tielu’s sudden passing this week.

The 20-year-old posted a gut wrenching tribute to Tielu  on Friday night and he and his family would have been in the thoughts of many in the rugby community and beyond in recent days.

Captain Liam Wright acknowledged the situation post-match on FOX Sports saying the last few days would give the players perspective on a tough night at the office.

Brad Thorn gave a hint of the impact of the week’s events when asked about Petaia and his withdrawal from the match on Saturday.

“That was a tough one, it was a tough one,” Thorn said.

“On Thursday night, we had some players who supported Jordie around that.

“Probably don't want to talk about it too much, it's been a hard one.

“We're really feeling for him, for his family.

“His dad was a wonderful man Tielu. There'll be a farewell I imagine going into next week. Just is what it is. It was a shock and we're just thinking of Jordie and maybe it gives a bit of balance to the game tonight or the score or whatnot.”

While there was no sense the Reds were using the situation as any excuse, it will be a sombre reminder that rugby is at its core, simply a game.