This from http://www.greenandgoldrugby.com my third ever piece.
The Lions came into this match with 1 win from 6 matches, having lost four from 5 matches by less than 7. The Reds were sitting atop the Australian conference with 4 out of 5 wins, but are still looking for the attacking form they showed last year. After the game nothing much has changed. The lions are still picking up losing bonus points and the Reds are winning without appearing to be “in form.”
The afternoon match started with promise. Both sides looked to play attacking rugby. The lions looked to use the old head and accurate boot of André Pretorius to keep the Reds pinned in their own half and constantly under fire from the high ball. This along with the unfortunate, but justified sinbinning of James Slipper and the unjustified sinbinning of James Horwill, kept the Reds in check for the entire first half.
The Reds for their part continued with the hybrid field position / running rugby game they seem to be trying to develop. One minute they will be sedately playing field position and then some kind of cosmic switch closes and the team goes into hyper drive attacking anyway they know how and a few they don’t.
The early plays from both teams were fast and full of ball movement. Quade Cooper missed an early shot at goal and André Pretorius missed the attempt after the James Slipper sinbinning. The lions were running back Coopers’ 22 drop out. Bandise Maku the Lions Hooker, hits the ball up on the blindside of the ruck. He skips past Digby Ioane and runs into Slippers shoulder mid skip. He has his body weight forward and his feet are a few inches off the ground. Slippers hip level tackle is now a leg level tackle and only one thing can happen. Maku’s legs are lifted. He lands on his shoulder and Slipper lands in the sinbin.
While the Reds are down to 14 the Lions score 8 points through a offside penalty and a good try to Killian. Unfortunately for the Reds Referee Vinnie Munro missed a glaring offside from Deon van Rensburg as he chased a Pretorius Bomb in the lead up to the try.
A few minutes after Slipper returns Referee Vinnie Munro pulls play up at a ruck and pulls Reds captain James Horwill out. The conversation goes something like this.
Horwill, “I didn’t hit the ball I grabbed his arm”
Munroe, “No you hit the ball. You’re out of the game because you’re in the tackle, you’re off your feet. That’s a cynical foul. They had the ball. You’re gone for 10.”
Horwill has reason to be incredulous and does well to keep his comments to this. Leroy Houston and Adam Wallace-Harrison had tackled JC Janse van Rensburg and Horwill was the third man in trying to counter ruck over the ball. Lions halfback Jano Vermaak picks up the ball and Horwill leans through and knocks his arm causing him to drop the ball. Horwill was never part of the tackle and only lost his footing after he had hit the arm or the ball. This was hardly a penalty let alone a sinbinning offence. Pretorius slot the Penalty 11-0
The Reds Hit back 11-7 After some good lead up work from the Reds forwards Genia takes a couple of steps to hold the loose forwards. Cooper runs to the line and holds two players of his own and put Luke Morahan through a lovely hole off his outside shoulder. Morahan uses his speed to make the 20 metre run to the line. Harris takes over the kicking duties and slots the extras.
“Not releasing” Harris slots the penalty as Horwill jogs back on. 10-3 to the Reds while he has been off.
“Not Releasing” Pretorius slots the penalty. 14-10 at oranges.
The second half never reaches the “heights” of the first. Tiredness is creeping into both teams games. Genia and Cooper are have more and more influence and Pretorius is using his boot too much.
1 minute into the half Digby Ioane drops a midfield kick setting up Jaco Taute for an easy score. Pretorius misses the conversion 19-10
Unfortunately for the Lions Ioane, who has till now been having a reasonable game, takes this personally. And spends the rest of the match making up for his mistake by being everywhere! This seems to have been the catalyst for the Reds to get their house in order. From the next kick off James Horwill Takes the ball at full flight and roars into the Lions 22. It is a beautiful bit of play from the big forward and should be on his highlight reel for a long time to come. Saia Faingaa runs the ball out, The lions win the lineout and hoof it down field and the Reds run it back and cooper slides through under the posts. 19-17.
“Not releasing” Harris slots the penalty. 19-20.
Rory Kokott offside. Harris slots the penalty. 19-23.
The Reds final try was a build up over many phases. Digby Ioane took the last pass 2 metres out and there was no stopping him from there. Harris converts 19-30
“Not Releasing” Pretorius slots the penalty. 22-30 There may be a pattern forming here!
The last score of the match came from the Lions. Both teams are fading badly by now. The lions have used all their back reserves and have most of them playing out of position to cover their losses. The Reds just don’t seem to have the energy left to mount an effort for the bonus Goat and set about shutting the match down.
The Reds are trying to shut the last couple of minutes of the game down with forward rucks. Vinnie Munro finds a penalty 55 metres out and Rory Kokott calmly steps up and slots it with 79 minutes on the clock.
Final Score 25-30 to the Reds
Wallaby watch: Cooper, Genia and Ioane were standouts for the Reds. Horwill, Holmes, Wallace-Harrison and Anthony Fiangaa deserve a mention. Mike Harris had a good day with the boot but looked a bit lost at fullback. Especially under the high ball.
Vinnie Munro 2/10
- Round 7 Ultimate Preview (greenandgoldrugby.com)