BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 03: Samu Kerevi of the Reds passes during the round 12 Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Sunwolves at Suncorp Stadium on May 03, 2019 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images for SUNWOLVES)
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 03: Samu Kerevi of the Reds passes during the round 12 Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Sunwolves at Suncorp Stadium on May 03, 2019 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images for SUNWOLVES)

Slack: We’ll take the win but Reds form laughable

With four minutes left in Friday night's game between the Reds and the Sunwolves, one of my fellow observers said, "This is like a comedy show."

None of what had gone on in the preceding 76 minutes was terribly funny when you considered this was a bunch of professional footballers who all get paid a healthy whack, but you had to admit is was comical. Comical, as in so bad you could do little but be amused.

I have no doubt the Reds are better than indicated by what they served up against a team beaten 52-nil the weekend before, but if courtesy of an ultimately favourable scoreboard, there was even a hint of a smile in the dressing rooms post match, coach Brad Thorn should be very, very worried.

Nine minutes into the match, Taniela Tupou and Izack Rodda, Wallabies both, had conceded soft penalties to give the visitors a 6-0 leg up. Add to the indiscipline a standard of passing which would embarrass a decent under 15b side, and you wondered what the next 70 minutes might hold.

The Reds' inaccuracy with their mauling, their inconsistent set pieces and the inability to maintain composure allowed the Sunwolves, who had little of the ball and two of their players sent to the bin, to lead at halftime.

Come the fifty minute mark and the Sunwolves were permanently down to 14 men when Semisi Masirewa was sent off after a high tackle. One extra man and the majority of possession indicated a cakewalk for the home side. However, this was when things got particularly amusing.

 

Despite the scoreline there were very few highlights for the Reds. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
Despite the scoreline there were very few highlights for the Reds. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

 

Courtesy of one of the rare moments of creativity and execution, Bryce Hegarty engineered a try for Sefa Naivalu and followed by a penalty soon after, the Reds had what should have been a decisive nine point lead and an extra player. Happy days. Smiles all round.

Time to bring on the fresh cavalry. JP Smith, often a valuable weapon off the bench, left his brain on it, and gave away the softest of penalties to allow the Sunwolves back within six.

With fourteen minutes to go, the Reds received a penalty in front of the posts which would give them that important nine point buffer.

The gift three points were ignored. Whether that was a captaincy or coaching decision, it was a demonstrably bad one. An indecisive moment from Hamish Stewart three minutes later and what should have been a 28-19 lead to the Reds had the penalty goal been taken, was now a 26-25 lead to the visitors.

Thankfully for the Reds, the only thing more laughable than their comedy capers was the Sunwolves indiscipline. They lost another man to the naughty seat with ten minutes to go and the Reds, on the back of 15 players v 13 managed to score the winning try.

 

Chris Feauai-Sautia does his best to break through the Sunwolves defence. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled
Chris Feauai-Sautia does his best to break through the Sunwolves defence. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled

 

If you thought the entertainment was over then, you were mistaken.

Harry Hockings did an unnecessary, if gentle, tap dance and was shown a red card. The Sunwolves victim/instigator of the soft shoe shuffle got a yellow card, so the last four minutes saw 14 guys playing 12 and about eight thousand spectators rolling in the aisles with laughter.

"We paid good money to see this?", they were saying. "Good thing we've got a sense of humour."

You know the funniest thing? The Reds are still in the hunt for the finals.

Should they deliver a repeat performance in Melbourne this Friday night, they won't be any longer because the Rebels could start the match with just 12 men and still be too good for the Reds.

All season, it's been a case of one week off, one week on for the Reds. They somehow got away with four competition points on a very off week. Another one of those and they'll be more laughing stock than contenders.