Sport

Reds must win the piggy duel

The Reds face the Sharks meet at Suncorp on Saturday.
The Reds face the Sharks meet at Suncorp on Saturday. superxv.com

MUCH has been said and written about Saturday's preliminary final. And most has been about Quade Cooper's suspension.

And sorry, it'll be mentioned here too because it is without a doubt a pivotal element of this game. But there are other elements.

The primary bonus for the Reds is securing the home semi. They do not have to travel across to the Republic, or encounter the Sharks' supporters. They've been all snug and cosy in their homes, training in the same venues and slipping confidently into their weekly rhythm of recovery and preparation.

And the other benefit is that nagging bruises and minor injuries can get that extra day or so recuperation, as opposed to limitations placed on a travelling team.

Trust me, it all adds up.

It can be done though. I was part of the Reds team that beat the Sharks in Durban for the Super 10 title in 94. From memory, we beat North Harbour (NZ) at home at Ballymore on the Sunday, travelled on the Monday and reached Durban, via a stop-over in Singapore, on the Wednesday. We then played and won the final on the Saturday.

However, that was then and this is now.

Let's not forget he Sharks are also missing a few of their stars for this must-win prelim. Francois Steyn, star playmaker Patrick Lambie, and Lock Pieter-Steph du Toit did not board the jet from Durban.

Another benefit for the Reds is that they have history playing without Cooper.

They were without him for most of this year's Super Rugby competition while he recovered from knee surgery required after last year's Rugby World Cup.

Fair enough, they are not the same team without him. But it's not as though not having him there will be a massively new experience for the club. And Ben Lucas, a very good player in his won right, will slot right in comfortably.

So what of the rugby that will be produced by the Reds and Sharks? Well, rugby is rugby, and what got the Reds to the finals may not necessarily get them through to the final. Bonus points for four tries are irrelevant - winning any way possible is the objective.

This is no more evident than in Reds coach Ewen McKenzie's admission that while scoring tries will be persued as a method to win the game, yet, '... building the scoreboard will be the main task'. And in a rugby context we all know what that means.

To move this point on just a bit, the forward pack is where the game will be won. Although I've said on many occasions that the Reds' big names, Genia, Ioane, and Cooper (when available), for example, are vital for the Reds' chances in the finals, against South African sides you need at least parity in the forward battle. Even more so in finals.

Without generalising too much, against most Aussie and Kiwi sides, having a slight 'loss' in the piggy duel can be offset by the individual and collective brilliance of your backs.

But seldom is this the case with teams from the Republic. And it will be the case tomorrow night.

Should the Reds get bashed in the forwards, even having two Will Genias and two Quade Coopers wouldn't be enough.

Topics:  quade cooper, queensland reds, super 15 rugby, will genia


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Byron Bay Brewery will reopen next month

ENTERTAINMENT: For years, the Byron Bay Brewery has been an important venue for local artists to showcase their creations.

It has been closed for six weeks of renovations

Yann Martel on novels: "Like building cathedrals in the mind”

Yann Martel is a Canadian author best known for the Man Booker Prize-winning novel Life of Pi, an international bestseller published in more than 50 territories.

The writer of Life of Pi introduces his new novel in Byron Bay

Latest deals and offers

Sara Connor trying to protect killed cop, says lawyer

The lawyer for the Byron Bay woman accused of murdering a Bali policeman says she was trying to protect the victim from her British boyfriend.

Byron Bay Brewery will reopen next month

ENTERTAINMENT: For years, the Byron Bay Brewery has been an important venue for local artists to showcase their creations.

It has been closed for six weeks of renovations

Yann Martel on novels: "Like building cathedrals in the mind”

Yann Martel is a Canadian author best known for the Man Booker Prize-winning novel Life of Pi, an international bestseller published in more than 50 territories.

The writer of Life of Pi introduces his new novel in Byron Bay

Our rail could roll again on Byron line

BACK IN THE DAY: The old motorail express leaving Byron. The picture comes from the book Time and Tide Again courtesey of W. Brian Alexander

Friends of the Byron Line will be founded today.

Single-day tickets on sale for each date of Falls Festival

LAUNCH: The Avalanches' Robbie Chater and Tony Diblasi were the official DJs at the Byron Bay launch of Falls Festival 2016/17.

Find out when is each artist playing this year in Byron Bay

John Williamson winding up for another Gympie Muster

John Williamson is bringing some new songs and artists to this year's Muster.

John Williamson is back and ready to put on his best show ever

Kate McKinnon 'destitute' before SNL

Kate McKinnon says she can't do anything but act

FBI investigating Leslie Jones website hack

The FBI are investigating Leslie Jones' personal website hack

Katy Perry: 'I stay normal with therapy'

Katy Perry says she relies on therapy to help her 'stay normal'

World's highest-paid actor revealed

The highest-paid actors in the world have been revealed

Jessica Alba regrets her tattoos

Jessica Alba regrets getting her tattoos

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson highest paid actor in world

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson

Johnson earned almost $20 million more than Jennifer Lawrence

REVEALED: Pat Rafter's $18m Coast house on the market

Check out the photos of the Coast's most expensive property for sale

The "correction we had to have" in Gladstone's rentals

UPWARD MARCH: The rental vacancy rate in Gladstone has improved for the first time in more than a year, providing a confidence boost in the market.

Vacancy rates improve with signs that things are getting betterF

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

Investors eye Gladstone's $4m island with resort approval

UP FOR SALE: Turtle Island is on the market.

CHINESE and Sydney investors flag interest in Gladstone island.

Take a sneak peek at this $19m Whitsunday mansion

Mandalay House features a private helipad.

Mandalay is currently on the market with an asking price of $19m