Reds cause major upset over unbeaten Chiefs

Fri, May 12, 2023, 8:41 AM
Murray Wenzel - AAP
by Murray Wenzel - AAP
The Chiefs host the Queensland Reds in a thriller

The Queensland Reds have broken their New Zealand hoodoo and ended the Chiefs' unbeaten season with a stunning Super Rugby Pacific upset in New Plymouth.

Composure and relentless defence was behind the Reds' 25-22 win, with Tom Lynagh's 77th-minute penalty ending a 21-game, 10-year losing streak on New Zealand soil.

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The Chiefs had a chance to steal a win, putting together a pulsating 27 phases after the full-time siren and twice holding a penalty advantage.

But Tyrone Thompson was held up over the line by a pack of desperate Reds, the referee's full-time whistle killing that advantage and sealing a famous first win for Brad Thorn in New Zealand since he took over as Queensland coach in 2018.

It came against the ladder-leaders no less, who have averaged 37 points per game in 10 straight wins to begin the season.

It was also the Reds' first win against New Zealand opposition in their last 11 starts and has revived the side's finals hopes in what will be coach Thorn's final season.

"Unbelievable," co-captain Tate McDermott said. "It gives us new life.

"We've always just lacked the polish, discipline's been an achilles heel and tonight we put it away and defended like a pack of dogs."

Jock Campbell excelled at fullback with Jordan Petaia (wrist) out, while James O'Connor was influential in the No.12. 

Halfback McDermott and flanker Fraser McReight were everywhere in inspiring World Cup auditions.

Hooker Matt Faessler was also a key man, coming on in a full swap of the Reds' front row with two minutes to play in the first half.

That proved a turning point, the Reds boldly kicking for touch instead of taking three points and scoring through McDermott to go to the sheds 12-12 after dominating the half.

Campbell scored on the restart after more sustained pressure, poor kicking the only downside after the Reds' corrected their lineout wobbles of the opening period.

The Chiefs pressed for a response but found no way through the Reds' defence, star No.10 Damian McKenzie eventually kicking out on the full.

A McReight knock-on provided a chance though, Samipeni Finau eventually scoring after countless close-range charges at the line.

That levelled the scores at 22-22 with seven minutes to play, the Reds somehow winning possession when their restart hit the deck.

Lynagh obliged with a penalty to put them ahead and then, after a scrum on halfway when play was paused to treat a Finau injury, Queensland held on for dear life to secure a famous win.


TRIES: Blake, McDermott, Campbell, Nonggorr

CONS: Creighton 1/2, Lynagh 0/2

PENS: Lynagh 1/1


TRIES: Nanai-Seturo 2, Finau

CONS: McKenzie 2/3

PENS: McKenzie 1/1


CHIEFS (1-15): Jared Proffit, Bradley Slater, John Ryan, Tupou Vaa'i, Josh Lord, Samipeni Finau, Luke Jacobson (c), Simon Parker, Cortez Ratima, Damian McKenzie, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Rameka Poihipi, Anton Lienert-Brown, Emoni Narawa, Shaun Stevenson

RESERVES: Tyrone Thompson, Ollie Norris, Atunaisa Moli, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Josh Ioane, Alex Nankivell 

REDS (1-15): George Blake, Richie Asiata, Peni Ravai, Connor Vest, Angus Blyth, Liam Wright (co-c), Fraser McReight, Seru Uru, Tate McDermott (c), Lawson Creighton, Mac Grealy, James O'Connor, Filipo Daugunu, Suliasi Vunivalu, Jock Campbell

RESERVES: Matt Faessler, Sef Fa'agase, Zane Nonggorr, Ryan Smith, Harry Wilson, Louis Werchon, Tom Lynagh, Paddy James

Referee: Paul Williams

Assistant Referees: Dan Waenga, Mike Winter