Reds valiant title defence comes to an end
Saturday July 21, 2012
The Queensland Reds six-match winning streak came to an end on Saturday night when the defending champions went down to the Sharks 30-17 in their Super Rugby Qualifying Final at Suncorp Stadium, ending their bid for back-to-back titles.
The Reds have been in finals mode since round 12 where they were forced to go six games without defeat to win the Australian Conference, a valiant performance which was highlighted by their must-win bonus-point victory against the Waratahs at Suncorp Stadium in the final regular season match of 2012.
The Reds entered tonight’s match having won 21 of their past 23 matches at their Fortress however were unable to continue writing their fairytale script with the in form Sharks victorious three-tries-to-two in front of 36,571 fans.
It wasn’t the ending coach Ewen McKenzie or the team were expecting however it has been a remarkable season both on and off the field for the Reds in 2012 where the Reds regular season average crowd attendances were up a healthy 16 per cent to a record 34,218 while membership increased by more than 100 per cent.
For the second consecutive year the Reds also maintained their dominance over their Australian rivals, topping the Australian Conference with 11 regular season wins, which included a collective seven victories from eight matches against the Brumbies, Waratahs, Rebels and Force.
“We’re obviously disappointed but there are things to be positive about and this group has a lot of football ahead of them,” coach Ewen McKenzie said.
“We have a lot of good guys and I’m pretty proud of them. It has been a really good effort from where we were in round 4 to get to where we are now. It’s just disappointing because we know we are better than what we were tonight.
“But we’ll just keep pushing forward. I’ve been involved for three years and a lot of the guys have come into the program and they’ve developed as players into Wallabies. We’ve won a lot of football games and they’ve all put their hands up and are staying.
“We also have a fantastic record here in recent times at Suncorp. It wasn’t a great one tonight but we will dust ourselves off and keep going from a program point of view.”
Reds captain Will Genia scored a superb try just before half time to send the Reds to the break with their tails up - trailing by just 10 points, after losing flyhalf Ben Lucas in the 20th minute and hooker Saia Faingaa shortly after to injuries.
An intercept try to Sharks halfback Charl McLeod in the 44th minute saw the Sharks open their lead back up to 17 points, 27-10, and scores would remain the same until the 78th minute as the Reds sent wave after wave of desperate attack at the unmovable Sharks defence on their line.
Reds replacement Radike Samo finally broke through and found the chalk just before the siren, after an earlier appeal for a try by Liam Gill was denied by NZ TMO Matt Goddard in the 56th minute.
Reds flyer Dom Shipperley ends the 2012 season as the Reds highest try scorer with eight tries.
The Sharks will now play the Stormers in the FxPro Super Rugby Semi-Final and the Crusaders will meet the Chiefs in Hamilton.
Sharks 30 (JP Pietersen, Paul Jordaan, Charl McLeod tries; Frederic Michalak 3 cons, 2 pens, dg) def. Queensland Reds 17 (Will Genia, Radike Samo tries; Mike Harris, Will Genia cons; Mike Harris pen).
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