Reds player ratings vs Highlanders | Super Rugby Trans-Tasman
Fresh off their Super Rugby AU title-winning success, the Queensland Reds were tasked with opening their Super Rugby Trans-Tasman account against the Highlanders in the roofed cauldron that is Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
In what many perceived to be a surprise, the bookmakers listed the Highlanders as strong favourites to overcome their Australian counterparts, who were hindered by a raft of injuries to frontline players.
Those short odds proved to be accurate, though, as Brad Thorn’s side were their own worst enemies at times due to their inaccuracies on attack, which led to sustained pressure on defence throughout the match.
As a result, the Highlanders romped to a 40-19 bonus point victory in front of their home fans, leaving the Reds to lick their wounds as they travel back to Brisbane ahead of next week’s clash against the Crusaders.
With all that in mind, here’s how the Reds rated in their defeat:
1. Dane Zander – 5.5
Was part of the starting front row that showed some wobbles at scrum time. Looked hungry with ball in hand, but had his impacted blunted by the opposition defence. Off in the 55th minute.
2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa – 7
Very solid at the set piece and very good on the opposite side of the ball. Caught the Highlanders napping plenty of times with his quick throws. Showed good intent with ball in hand. Did well to secure his side a penalty at the breakdown in the closing stages of the first half. Was evident he was one of the few Wallabies in this week’s Reds side. Off in the 70th minute.
3. Feao Fotuaika – 6
While he was part of the wobbly front row, Fotuaika looked committed on both sides of the ball until injury forced his premature departure in the first half. Off in the 33rd minute.
4. Ryan Smith – 5
Fought well to steal the ball at the lineout in the 16th minute, but was let down by his teammates who failed to secure possession. Was largely anonymous after that, though. Off in the 65th minute.
5. Angus Blyth – 5
Horrible start by interfering with Kalani Thomas’ pass inside his own 22 which led to Scott Gregory’s try in the opening minute. Hardly sighted after that. Fair to say his place in the starting team is in jeopardy given Lukhan Salakaia-Loto’s performance off the pine. Off in the 51st minute.
6. Angus Scott-Young – 6
Energetic when called upon by his side. Never took a step backwards. Still not quite as good as Fraser McReight, who should come back into the starting side next week.
7. Liam Wright – 7
Great heads up play to stop the Highlanders right in their tracks with a swift turnover in the 14th minute. Halted the hosts’ rolling maul by storming up the guts to wrap his arms around Ash Dixon and force a scrum feed for his side. Hearty effort on the defensive side of things with team-high 17 tackles from 17 attempts and a whopping four turnovers.
8. Seru Uru – 7
Was one of Queensland’s best in this match. Ran hard and straight on attack and constantly asked question of the Highlanders’ defence. A more than adequate replacement for the injured Harry Wilson.
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9. Kalani Thomas – 5
Threw the ball right into the body of Blyth in the first minute, the catalyst for Gregory’s try with just 30 seconds on the clock. Made amends for it just four-and-a-half minutes later by burrowing over from close range right in front of the posts. Fired off another shaky pass near his own tryline around the 20th minute mark, which was shortly followed by a questionable box kick deep inside his own half. Guilty of obstruction on the stroke of half-time. A bit like a rough diamond – clearly has the ability and potential, but some of the finer details still need some work. Off in the 51st minute.
10. James O’Connor – 6
Quiet, but made a superb covering tackle on Aaron Smith just as the Highlanders looked like scoring. Off at half-time due to a head knock, which no doubt impacted the outcome of the match.
11. Jock Campbell – 6
Looked lively the whenever he had ball. Showed off his booming punt on occasion. Should keep his place in the starting side against the Crusaders.
12. Hamish Stewart – 5
Guilty of giving away a fair few penalties early on. Tried hard, as reflected by his tackle stats that read 15 successful tackles from as many attempts, but was ultimately ineffective. As is the case at centre, Queensland need the hard-hitting Hunter Paisami back from the injury ward.
13. Josh Flook – 6
Dependable but unspectacular. Seems as though the Reds are going to miss their star man Jordan Petaia throughout Super Rugby Trans-Tasman. Off in the 70th minute.
14. Filipo Daugunu – 6.5
Sloppy handling error stunted his side’s promising attack in the 12th minute. Lively start to the second half after a subdued opening stanza. Stayed involved throughout. Was unfortunate to have a try scratched out due to an earlier forward pass. Needs to get involved all match long next week if the Reds are to bounce back from this result.
15. Bryce Hegarty – 6
Stepped in at first receiver many a time, but was caught out regularly on defence as Mitch Hunt quickly caught onto his poor positioning in the backfield. Moved into first-five after O’Connor was pulled at half-time. Reacted well to the added playmaking responsibilities by setting up Vunivalu with a pinpoint cross-kick. Found touch with an outstanding that almost went from 22 to 22 near the hour mark. Was unfortunate to have thrown a forward pass to Fraser McReight in a sequence of play that would have resulted in Daugunu’s try in the 65th minute.
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16. Josh Nasser – N/A
On in the 70th minute.
17. Harry Hoopert – 5
On in the 55th minute. Not a whole lot to write home about, which isn’t what you really want from a substitute whose role is to provide impact off the bench.
18. Taniela Tupou – 6
On in the 33rd minute. Wasn’t at his absolutely destructive best on attack, but showed some classy touches of finesse while in possession of the ball.
19. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto – 6.5
On in the 51st minute. Brought plenty of aggression on attack, echoing the effort of Uru. Should return to the run-on side at Suncorp Stadium next Saturday.
20. Fraser McReight – 6.5
On in the 65th minute. Made an instant impact with a beautiful line break in the 65th minute, even if it didn’t count for anything because of Hegarty’s forward pass.
21. Moses Sorovi – 6
On in the 51st minute. Brought some extra impetus upon his induction into the match. Wasn’t enough to overturn the result, though. The sooner Tate McDermott returns from injury, the better.
22. Isaac Henry – N/A
On in the 70th minute.
23. Suliasi Vunivalu – 7
On at half-time. Showed off his NRL pedigree with a spectacularly taken try from a Hegarty cross-kick shortly after his introduction off the bench. Replicated that effort right on the stroke of full-time. Cost his side a penalty shortly after his first try by competing at the ruck while off his feet, which led to Dixon’s second try. A decent enough comeback after his off-field issues in court.
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