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Chiefs may no longer be SRP favourites after underdog Reds’ famous upset

By Finn Morton
Queensland Reds celebrate victory during the round three Super Rugby Pacific match between Queensland Reds and Chiefs at Suncorp Stadium, on March 09, 2024, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

Former Wallaby Stephen Hoiles has branded the Reds’ Round Three win as a much-needed “feel good story” after they potentially knocked the Chiefs off competition favourites status on a famous Brisbane night at Suncorp Stadium.


The Queensland Reds have emerged as the real deal in Super Rugby Pacific this season after bouncing back from a golden point defeat to the Reds a week earlier to beat the Chiefs 25-19.

Chiefs fullback Josh Ioane opened the scoring early in the first term but the hosts showed their class as Matt Faessler and Fraser McReight both crossed to help give the Queenslanders a hard-fought lead.

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While the Reds struck back just after the break, the final 30 minutes were controlled by the Reds as they regained an advantage and never looked back in front of their home supporters.

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The Reds defended their line for 23 phases as the Chiefs attempted to snatch victory at the death, but replacement Harry McLaughlin-Phillips was the hero by winning a turnover with the last play of the fixture.

“I always felt this game was going to be the true test of how good the Reds were,” Stephen Hoiles said on Stan Sports’ Between Two Posts.

“They were unlucky in extra-time the week before, they were excellent in trial form, excellent in Round One. I was really keen to see how they’d go against the Chiefs who I still, well maybe not now, but this time last week I thought they were competition favourites.


“It’s always early to throw that sort of stuff out (but) what I’m saying is they’re still one of the best teams in the comp so (it was) a great measuring stick for the Reds to come up against and they were outstanding.

“I really hope that that run can continue because you get that feeling that they’re going to start getting big crowd numbers there, the emotion after the game was awesome. It’s the feel good story in rugby that we needed so far.”

Harry McLaughlin-Philips is only 19 years of age. The Reds were also missing Hunter Paisami and Jordan Petaia. They had their backs against the ropes but never cowered.


Playmaker Isaac Henry stepped into the No. 12 jersey and was superb, while Wallaby Jock Campbell returned to the starting side with flying colours in the absence of Petaia.


The Reds struggled last season without Taniela Tupou and Paisami during their respective injury spells, but new coach Les Kiss is unlocking the full potential of the entire Queensland squad.

“Isaac Henry, that was the big test in my opinion,” Hoiles added.

“Last year they missed two key players for a majority of the season and it affected their overall placing in the competition.

“I just thought it was going to be a good test for Henry and he stood up… that’s how, not jumping ahead to say they’re going to win the comp and all that sort of stuff, but that’s how you go deep into this tournament.

“When players like Isaac Henry have games like that, and then in a few weeks’ time they find themselves back on the bench and they’re playing 20-30 minutes and you’re bringing on quality that has been in the deep end and they’ve survived.”

With two wins from three starts, the Queenslanders are now third overall on the Super Rugby Pacific standings. Looking to maintain their stellar start to the season, the Reds will travel back down to Melbourne to face the Rebels on Friday.

That fixture is the start of the Reds’ three-match stretch against Australian opposition which also includes an away trip to face the Western Force and a home game against the ACT Brumbies.


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David 101 days ago

Chiefs were lacking good decision makers in those last 5 mins unlike the Canes who got the job done. That’s were Sam Cane, Brad Weber and Brodie from last year would have been useful.
Canes looking sharp this year so far. How the Crusaders could have done with Cameron at 10?

Jasyn 102 days ago

Australians, world champs at getting ahead of themselves. And year after year they never seem to learn either.

Winning a battle, isn't winning the war.

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