Mouth-watering match-ups aplenty
ACROWD of 52,000 people crammed into the stadium to watch the Queensland Reds take on the Crusaders in the climax to the 2011 Super 15 season.
Both teams have suffered from natural disasters in their respective regions, taking an even greater emotional toll on players and fans.
There were many mouthwatering match-ups all across the field, Daniel Carter versus Quade Cooper, Will Genia versus Andy Ellis and many more.
The game started very evenly with both teams testing out each other’s defences but finding no chinks in the armour. Both teams had their chances in the first half with just the last pass letting them down.
Finally in the 30th minute the ref ruled the Crusaders players had gone straight over the top off their feet at the breakdown, the Reds opted to take a shot at goal which Quade Cooper duly did giving his side the early lead. Immediately after the kickoff the Crusaders turned the ball over at the breakdown and worked their way back up field until they were just outside the Reds 22. Carter threw an inside pass to Sean Maitland who almost broke through, then Andy Ellis passed the ball to Carter who saw clear space behind the defensive line so he calmly grubbered the ball through re-gathered and scored between the posts.
One thing I saw was Quade Cooper, the last defender give up the chase when Daniel Carter had regathered the ball allowing Carter to take it under the posts.
This I think is the one key difference separating these two first fives – not physical ability or skill but attitude.
Quade Cooper was still three metres away when Carter got the ball back and should have forced Carter to stay out wide to make the conversion more difficult.
Also when Carter scored the try he calmly got up, said something to his teammate and then walked out to the front of the goal posts ready for the conversion, whereas Cooper would have had some fancy hand sign or dance move.
The second half was just as exciting.
The teams came onto the field with the score at 7-6 to the Crusaders. Shortly after the restart the Crusaders were awarded another penalty which Carter converted taking the lead to 10-6.
I was beginning to feel the Cantabrian’s were gaining the ascendancy. However, it appears the Reds are made of sterner stuff than that, twice scrambling to stop Brad Thorn from charging his way over the line.
Andy Ellis threw a long pass to Sonny Bill Williams, who offloaded to man mountain Robbie Fruean, who broke into the backfield then fed the pass to Sean Maitland who shelled it.
Missed chances would come back to haunt the Crusaders.
From a poor kick the Reds halfback Will Genia retrieved the ball, ran the ball back beating two defenders before passing to Quade Cooper and on to Digby Ioane who raced in to score.
The score was now 13-10 to the Queenslanders. The Crusaders responded however with a penalty levelling the score at 13 apiece. The defining moment of the match came when Crusaders replacement flanker Matt Todd took the ball into contact, lost it, the Reds forwards gained control of the ball recycled to the centre Anthony Faianga who passed to pocket rocket Will Genia who weaved his way through the Crusaders defenders and bolted 60m to the try line to slam the ball down giving the Reds the lead once and for all.
The Crusaders had a chance to sneak the trophy with a lineout on the Reds’ 22 but Corey Flynn missed the target and that was all she wrote.
The Reds winning their first title after 15 seasons of hard work and some lean years with some pretty terrible results but now they have a great nucleus of players who can go on to create a dynasty.
Two weeks ago was potentially the greatest week in the history of Queensland oval ball history with the Maroons winning an absolute blockbuster against the Blues 34-24 winning their sixth series in a row sending Darren Lockyer out like the true champion that he is.