Battered Reds left to lament errors in Crusaders loss

Reds coach Brad Thorn said his side was left to lament time without the ball after simple errors cost any chance of a win against the champion Crusaders.

The Reds lost 22-12 after conceding two tries in the opening 10 minutes and being forced into a backline reshuffle after losing boom colt Jordan Petaia to an ankle injury.

But Queensland showed resolve in refusing to let the margin blow out despite the Crusaders dominating possession and field position for much of the match.

“They jumped out to that lead and that was the second time in a couple of weeks where a lead was put on us and we haven’t fallen to pieces,” Thorn said.

“It was one-way traffic for a while there and some opportunities started to come our way late in that half and in the second half.

“There were a lot of positives, we worked hard in defence and we have the conditioning to do that.

“But having time with that footy is a big one and sometimes it felt like we got opportunities with the ball and we turned it straight back over.”

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While they lost to the Highlanders last week, the Reds’ performance suggested they could test the Crusaders in their first home match of the season.

But they were outclassed, the Crusaders in control as the Reds squandered possession and opportunities inside Crusaders territory.

To finish within 10 points of the champions was a good effort considering the simple mistakes the Reds made throughout the game.

“I think we showed we have some talent across the park and we can make some things happen,” Thorn said.

“It’s disappointing, the loss.

“It felt like if we held some possession for a while we could have built some good pressure.

“I’m also conscious of the people that are supporting us.

“Obviously you do whatever it takes to win but the people supporting us want to see some good footy.

“It felt like if we controlled the ball a little bit more, we’ve can show some more stuff in attacking areas.

“Last week, our hands were really good, so the guys have been handling well.

“It’s just a frustrating game sometimes.”

Thorn was unsure of the severity of Petaia’s injury but the Wallabies back finished the match in a moon boot and is at long odds to line up against the Waratahs next week.

Petaia twisted his foot awkwardly while taking the ball up early in the first half.

And he is not the only injury concern for the Reds, with fullback Bryce Hegarty playing more than 40 minutes with a popped rib.

When Liam Wright looked to have raced over in the 70th minute, the crowd of 17,676 were in raptures but it was disallowed after an obstruction from JP Smith.


Returning forward Scott Higginbotham scored a late try to bring the Reds within 10 points but they were left to rue their slopiness in the opening stages, in which they allowed two Crusaders tries in the opening 10 minutes.

Braydon Ennor and Will Jordan raced over in the opening stages and the Reds were left reeling when Petaia was forced off just minutes later.

A Samu Kerevi try just before the break put the Reds in striking distance at the break but their inability to control the ball allowed the Crusaders to maintain control in the second half.

They dominated possession, holding the ball for 21 phases early in the half before winning a penalty, and eventually, a try to Whetu Douglas.

After a magnificent physical effort against the Highlanders, the Reds struggled to deal with the step up in intensity against the Crusaders.

And when Lukhan Salakaia-Loto was given a yellow card for failing to get back onside, the Reds were again on the back foot, with Jordan Taufua planting the ball from a pushover effort against the much vaunted Reds scrum.

So dominant against the Highlanders a week earlier, the Reds scrum struggled against the Crusaders and coach Scott Robertson said his decision to bring both All Blacks front rowers on the trip, despite the World Cup resting policy, had been vindicated.

“I thought we might leave one at home but in respect to them we brought them both and I’m glad we did,” he said.

While they extended their record-breaking winning streak to 18 matches, the Crusaders were less pleased with missing out on a possible bonus point after being forced to play the final stages with 14 men after replacement flyhalf Mitch Hunt seemed to be denied a replacement while undergoing an HIA.

With the Crusaders having used all their reserves already, starting No.10 Richie Mo’unga returned to the field but was sent off again, with Robertson saying he would question the ruling with match officials.


Highlanders 22

Tries: Braydon Ennor, Will Jordan, Whetu Douglas, Jordan Taufua

Cons: Richie Mo’unga 

Reds 12

Tries: Samu Kerevi, Scott Higginbotham

Cons: Hegarty

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