Queensland Reds captain Liam Wright knows his side’s desperate line defence won’t be enough if they are to navigate past the Melbourne Rebels on Saturday and into the Super Rugby AU final.
The Reds were monumental in a shutout of the Rebels when they last met, holding them up over the line five times and making 204 tackles to the try-less Rebels’ 66.
The win shot them from fourth to second, the Reds conceding just one try in each of their two games since to earn preliminary final hosting rights at Suncorp Stadium.
Wright is wary though, believing a first finals win since 2011 won’t come in similar fashion on Saturday.
“If you look at our last few games it’s evident we can defend our line well, but didn’t make the most of capitalising on their errors and put ourselves deep in their half,” the back-rower said.
“Come finals footy you can’t do that, because the pressure ticks over into points.”
The Reds aren’t short of attack though, with in-form fullback Jock Campbell firing, James O’Connor creating at No.10 and probing halfback Tate McDermott pushing incumbent Wallabies No.9 Nic White with his strong form.
Much fuss has been made of powerhouse prop Taniela Tupou’s scrum strategy, Brumbies coach Dan McKellar challenging officials to watch closely before a potential rematch in the final next weekend.
The Rebels have gone down a similar path but the Reds haven’t engaged in the by-play, coach and finals expert Brad Thorn stressing how important it is to stay in the moment before a do-or-die clash.
Wright admitted there was a buzz around Ballymore with so many first-time finalists but that there would be no reflection just yet.
“It’s human nature to get ahead of ourselves, get a bit excited,” he said.
“But there is no grand final without us beating the Rebels and that’s come across pretty well for the boys.
“We’re not ready to reflect just yet … we do that at the end of the season.”
The game also presents as the last chance to impress for a spots in new Wallabies coach Dave Rennie’s Rugby Championship squad, due to be announced on Sunday.
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