Tate McDermott knows they must frustrate their fans but hopes the Queensland Reds’ latest effort resonates as they shoot back into the Super Rugby AU frame.
A week after leaking six tries in a bleak loss to the NSW Waratahs, the Reds tackled themselves to a standstill for a bonus point 19-3 win over the Melbourne Rebels.
Making 204 tackles to the Rebels’ 66, coach Brad Thorn described it as State of Origin-esque as they moved from fourth to second on 16 points – behind the Brumbies (18 points) with three rounds to play.
Plucky halfback McDermott is known for his probing offence but it was his 80kg frame holding up the Rebels advances time and again that surely captured Wallabies coach Dave Rennie’s attention at Suncorp Stadium.
The 21-year-old McDermott saved at least two certain tries in one-on-one efforts against bigger men as the Reds somehow repelled endless Rebels attacks, even with hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa in the sin bin.
It was in stark contrast to their leaky defence a week ago and McDermott knows they must find consistency to finish the season with some silverware.
“It’s all about believing and we’re slowly believing that we can,” he said.
“It’d be massive (to win Super Rugby AU); it’s hard to sit here and promise you stuff, but we keep talking about it and it must get frustrating listening to it.
“But hopefully people are starting to see what we’re about.”
After toppling the undefeated Brumbies last week, the Rebels (15 points) could have gone top with a win on Saturday.
Instead they slipped to fourth behind the Waratahs (16 points) ahead of a bye, likely needing wins against NSW and the Western Force (two points) to qualify for the three-team finals series.
Fresh off a bye, the Brumbies play the Waratahs on Saturday and, if the Reds beat the Force on Friday, could create a gap between the top two and the rest with a win against Rob Penney’s men.
McDermott acknowledged the snakes and ladders feel to the season but hoped the Reds had turned a corner on Saturday.
“We’ve got a lot to work on in terms of one week having a good attack, bad defence and vice versa,” he said.
“We’re not perfect, we know that and you’ve seen Reds teams in the past give up and that’s why last week was so disappointing; that’s not us and we’re trying to make amends.”
The Reds’ depth will be tested again with Hunter Paisami (knee) a likely casualty, while Jack Straker was the fifth to start in the injury-cursed No.1 jersey.
SUPER RUGBY AU RUN TO FINALS
*Four points for a win, plus a bonus point for scoring three or more tries than opponent or losing by seven points or less.
1. BRUMBIES (18 points, +17) v Waratahs (h), Force (h), Reds (a)
2. REDS (16 points, -6) v Force (Gold Coast), bye, Brumbies (h)
3. WARATAHS (15 points, +36) v Force (a), Rebels (a), bye
4. REBELS (14 points, +18) v bye, Waratahs (a), Force (a)
5. FORCE (2 points, -65) v Reds (Gold Coast), Brumbies (a), Rebels (a)
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