Mouth-wa­ter­ing match-ups aplenty

Matamata Chronicle - - Sport/opinion - By STEVEN SA­MUELS

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.

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