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



Mooball plans on the moo-ve

BIG PLANS: The village of Mooball from above.

Big plans for he quaint village of Mooball have the green light

Tweed United gunning for a top-four, finals’ finish

Tweed United captain and top goal scorer Michael Kolovos and his side are hell-bent on a top-four finish in season 2016.

"Our Destiny is in our own hands."

Latest deals and offers

Fashionistas show off at Splendour in the Grass

Amberly Nelson, from Melbourne, posts for a photo with friends at Splendour in the Grass.

GLITTER, skin and mesh were all on show at festival this weekend.

Day 2 Splendour Pictures

Sticky Fingers perform at Splendour in the Grass 2016. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star

Splendour in the Grass Day 2 covered in pictures.

WATCH: News reader tries her hand at hardcore shooter, Doom

Veteran journo and noob gamer takes a shot at Doom

What's on the small screen this week

MasterChef Australia's final four contestants, from left, Harry Foster, Elena Duggan, Elise Franciskovic and Matt Sinclair.

MASTERCHEF makes way for The Bachelor on Ten's reality TV slate.

Guy Sebastian a hit at Splendour in the Grass

Guy Sebastian performs at Splendour in the Grass with Paces.

REALITY TV judge a hit with festival crowd.

Superheroes of the big screen enjoy sounds of Splendour

CHRIS Hemsworth and his Avengers mates drop by Byron festival.

You can own this Queensland town for just $1

Yelarbon

Unprecedented auction of town's business centre with no reserve

Work starts on $15M Caloundra apartment building

Turning the first sod at the Aqua View Apartments site in Kings Beach are (from left) husband-and-wife developers Alex Yuan and Stella Sun with construction company Tomkins director Mike Tomkins and Councillor Tim Dwyer.

Developers excited about addition to Kings Beach skyline

Plans revealed for 1500-lot 'master-planned community'

Precinct will be bounded by Boundary St and Shoesmith Rd

Ecco Ripley sales run sparks prime release

MOVING IN: Sekisui House has announced the release of more residential blocks at Ecco Ripley.

Sekisui House is preparing to unveil more land at Ecco Ripley

Massive residential 9-storey high-rise hit by delays

An artist’s impression of the eight-storey-high apartment complex that Bernoth Holdings wants to build in South Toowoomba, next to the City Golf Club.

Developer struggles to get approved high-rise development started