Coach Brad Thorn insists he’s not fazed as the Queensland Reds limp home from a torrid tour winless after surrendering a big lead against the Jaguares, ensuring Australia’s Super Rugby sides are 0-6 against foreign foes this season.
The Reds let another winnable game slip, racing ahead 24-7 in Buenos Aires only to fall 43-27 following four unanswered second-half tries from the hosts on Sunday AEDT.
It capped a 0-3 tour to start the season for the Reds, who will be desperate to beat Japan’s Sunwolves at home on Saturday, having coughed up multiple chances to convert enterprising rugby into wins.
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In Canberra, the Brumbies’ 10-game home winning streak came crashing to a halt as they ran into their first foreign opponent of the season and the Highlanders scored and converted after the full-time hooter to prevail 23-22 on Saturday night.
It’ll be scant comfort to Brumbies coach Dan McKellar that the citing commissioner later agreed with him the visitors should have been reduced to 14-men as he charged Highlanders winger Sio Tomkinson with a dangerous tackle.
Tomkinson’s shoulder which rattled Brumbies fullback Tom Banks drew only a yellow card from referee Nic Berry during the match.
The Reds were left to ponder a penalty count of 13-3 against them as the Jaguares built a tidal wave of momentum before home fans in Buenos Aires.
Thorn was mystified by several decisions from local referee Federico Anselmi that went against his side, particularly at scrum time, and insisted it wouldn’t be panic stations for the Reds.
“The key moment was the scrum; we absolutely dominated and destroyed them and we get penalised,” Thorn said.
“That’s very hard to understand.
“We have one of the most dominant scrums in the comp. We’ve shown those pictures for the last two weeks. It’s been strong for a few years, but the last two weeks it’s just been doing the business.
“Five metres out, a key moment in the game, I think one of those props was on one of our guy’s shoulders. It was a hard one to understand. It was frustrating.”
“In the first two games we were our own worst enemy but tonight I thought the guys played outstandingly well and there was a lot to like,” he said.
“Last year we dropped our first three as well, but by mid-season we were equal with the Rebels on top of the conference, so we’re not fazed.”
One bright spot for the Reds was the performance of James O’Connor after he was retained at five-eighth ahead of Isaac Lucas.
The versatile veteran had been pigeonholed as a centre after occupying that space in his Wallabies return for last year’s World Cup.
But O’Connor’s no stranger to the halves and showed with his composure, assertive footwork and passing game that he remains an option for new national coach Dave Rennie later this year.
The Melbourne Rebels at least got on the board with a scrappy home win over the hapless NSW Waratahs, who are without even a bonus point three games into the season.
Ian Foster answers questions put forward by RugbyPass’ fans:
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