Five things we learnt from Force-Reds

Fri, Mar 4, 2022, 1:21 PM
Jim Tucker
by Jim Tucker
The Western Force host the Queensland Reds at HBF Park.

This was a win of the highest calibre from the Queensland Reds who imposed their clinical edge and cohesion after a week of turmoil in their flood-ravaged home state.

It takes a classy side to score the decisive try when down to 14 men but that’s exactly what the Reds did to beat the Western Force 29-16 at Perth’s HBF Park.

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So what did we learn:

1 CALM, CLINICAL AND O’CONNOR LEADING THE WAY

Injuries, travel delays, disrupted families and training in a dire flood week in Brisbane...there were plenty of issues buffeting the Reds even before they took the field.

Two yellow cards meant this was a 14-man effort for 20 minutes but the Reds hung tough 3-all in the first period and won the second 7-3.

That’s huge character right there.

As for flyhalf James O’Connor, it wasn’t just him throwing three beautifully-worked passes in the best display by an Australian flyhalf this season.

Every time the Reds had a chance they took it. There was deception with Jock Campbell, Paisami and O’Connor mixing it up at first receiver.

The Reds cleverly worked their patterns to use O’Connor at his best...giving him a one-on-one chance against a defender. He had decoys and support and doubt in Force minds. With that, his cool, double-pumped short balls to put players into holes were perfect. 

 2 YELLOW CARD FRUSTRATIONS...AGAIN

Most at HBF Park thought they had witnessed one of the tackles of the season when Hunter Paisami appeared from nowhere to floor a runaway Manasa Mataele.

It was a crunching front-on tackle until a Mataele leg was in the air as he peddled his legs in mid-air to get ahead and Paisami kept driving him back.

Yes, Paisami’s grab of the Mataele leg helped raise it above the horizontal but surely the winger’s body hitting the turf with a flat back and side could have been taken into account more. Not in 2022. Yellow card.

3 CAPTAIN’S CURSE

The Reds went into this match without injured co-captains Liam Wright and Tate McDermott. Just four minutes into the game, they lost a third captain when LukhanSalakaia-Loto limped off with an ankle injury.

It is sign of the leadership within the Reds that they could still call on 2021 skipper James O’Connor. Former Australian Under-20s captain Fraser McReight was also on the park.

4 TUPOU TACTICS

The ploy to use Wallaby weapon Taniela Tupou off the bench paid off big time for the Reds.

While the Reds gave up two scrum penalties early when he was yet to take the field, his 36 minutes to finish the game were decisive.

Not only did the Reds scrum start dominating, it meant rookie hooker Matt Faessler had a powerful ally to smooth his debut in the second half.

This win oozed clever coaching and tactics as well as good execution.

5 FORCE FED LESSONS

The Force led 13-12 just before half-time and might have imagined more chances coming their way.

By full-time they realised they had blown their best chances already in the first half when Fergus Lee-Warner was held up over the tryline, Mataele was dropping ball and pressure too rarely became points.

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