Tate leads the Reds to a stunning win after Thorn’s big call ended 10 painful years
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Brad Thorn’s bold Bomb Squad effort and Tate McDermott’s scrum brilliance helped the Reds to a shocking 25-22 victory over leaders Chiefs on Friday night in New Plymouth.
The Reds showed tremendous character and clinched the win. In the 77th minute, just moments after the Chiefs equalised, they took the lead for the last time and then held on when the Chiefs were sure to break the Reds’ hearts.
The game ended after 84 minutes when Tyrone Thompson was stopped by the Chiefs in the 27th period after a simply heroic Reds defense. The players jumped for joy and screamed as they realized how great their defense was.
The Reds had lost 13 of their last 14 games against New Zealand opponents – their only win during that period came in the third round against the Chiefs in Townsville in 2021 and it was their first win against a New Zealand side on New Zealand soil since 2013.
The Chiefs have won all ten games so far this season and 14 of their last 15 games. They will remain at the top of the table regardless of other results this weekend, but Queensland has held a record 5-6 and – for at least 26 hours – sits above the Waratahs and sits sixth in the table.
Both teams made several changes — ten for the Chiefs and eight for the Reds — but many judges expected the Chiefs to sideline the Reds early and move on from there. The Reds had to put in a lung-wrecking performance in which McDermott showed he would do anything to keep his number 9 Wallabies jersey after Eddie Jones snubbed him at the coach’s first Wallabies camp.
“We defended like a pack of dogs,” said the Reds captain. “We’re there for each other, that’s all I can ask of this group.”
Thorn said he was “super proud. Coming from Townsville, we were very disappointed with the Waratahs game. I know the Chiefs were missing players, but we were missing players too.”
It was a tactical masterstroke from Thorn, who will leave the team at the end of the season.
“You have your game plan, you have to be clinical and stay in the kick battle. We knew from the first minute to the 80th minute they were going to be dangerous, but it’s about loving the fight.”
The start was frantic and menacing as Chiefs winger Etene Nanai-Seturo sauntered past unmolested within six minutes for the first of his two first-half attempts.
The Reds put pressure on again, not for the last time in this game.
McDermott got within inches but kept his composure as base George Blake, who came on for Matt Faessler, drove past.
It should have been an easy conversion for Lawson Creighton, but the ball fell off the tee just as he began his run-up – a bizarre moment that resulted in a Chiefs player darting forward to retrieve the loose ball and two Wasted Gimme Points.
The Reds struggled in the scrum and out of the lane – Richie Asiata’s shot was atrocious – and Thorn, clearly upset, removed the entire front row just two minutes from half-time.
Most were expecting a run up to the Chiefs but after 20 minutes it was clear a competitive game had erupted, with some exciting ventures from both sides, with the Reds giving their all.
James O’Connor turned back time in 12th place, although his pace left a lot to be desired despite his intelligent play when he was released down the right wing in the 34th minute. He got his pass to Campbell, but the Chiefs survived and by a stroke of luck rose to the top soon after.
Nanai-Seturo caught a loose ball and shot it forward. When he picked it up there was no one in sight and his second five was just as casual as his first.
“It’s an absolute disgrace for the Reds, a bad pass that hits the deck and the Chiefs just go for it.” “Both teams are absolutely exhausted,” former New Zealand sevens star Karl Te Nana said in his comment.
But the Reds weren’t exhausted and progressed. Thorn dragged himself back on the front row and Faessler managed a lineout throw almost immediately. McDermott messed up the defense with a cheeky dummy for crossing.
“He’s a special player, he was all over the place for the first 40 minutes – that’s a massive fool,” enthused Te Nana.
McDermott was instrumental again as the Reds took the lead a few minutes into the second half. His long pass under the post as the Reds looked for a breakthrough sent Campbell wide and the No. 15 pounced for a 17-12 lead.
Damian McKenzie reduced the deficit to two with a penalty, but it was the Reds who won the next try.
Consecutive penalties within the Chiefs’ danger zone saw a leisurely build-up before Zane Nonggorr scored the first try of his super rugby career. Tom Lynagh, playing for Creighton, missed the move.
It looked like the misses would haunt the Reds as Samipeni Finau went over the cross after an enigmatic scrum call from Paul Williams, but the Reds had one last try. From the start, Fraser McReight followed the kick and recaptured the ball.
The Reds were awarded a penalty and Lynagh kept his nerve and put the ball in with three minutes to go.
The Chiefs made a mistake in the restart by knocking out Filipo Daugunu in the air and that should have been in there. But Faessler messed up his lineout throw and it ended in a crazy final act.
The Chiefs charged forward with multiple penalty advantages and seemed sure to score on a couple of occasions. Somehow the Reds found a way to survive.
Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan gave the Reds full credit.
“It’s a tremendous effort to get from Townsville back to Brisbane and on to New Zealand,” he said. “They looked like a desperate crew – and even more desperate than us tonight.”
https://www.theroar.com.au/2023/05/12/we-defended-like-a-pack-of-dogs-tate-leads-reds-to-stunning-win-after-thorns-huge-call-turns-the-tide/ Tate leads the Reds to a stunning win after Thorn's big call ended 10 painful years