Chiefs root Reds to the bottom

24th Mar 2007, 14:44


Kristian Ormsby: Brace of tries for the Chiefs lock

Kristian Ormsby: Brace of tries for the Chiefs lock

The Reds remain rooted to the bottom of the Super 14 log after they fell 19-21 to the Chiefs on Saturday at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

The Reds remain rooted to the bottom of the Super 14 log after they fell 19-21 to the Chiefs on Saturday at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

It looked as if the Reds may have sneaked a win when Andrew Walker kicked a 74th minute penalty but the lead was short lived as Stephen Donald kicked the winning points four minutes from time.

The Chiefs will be happy, if not relieved, to walk away with their second win of the tournament after a dire display of rugby by both teams would have left them seeking plenty of improvement in their forthcoming games.

For the Reds, it was yet another loss that now puts them at the worst run of defeats in their Super Rugby history. With a record seven losses in a row and a place at the bottom of the Super 14 standings, things really can't get much worse for the Brisbane-based team.

It was certainly a match that could have been won by the hosts and end their miserable run of defeats, but far too many handling errors and ill-discipline cost them dearly.

Saying that, their inability to pounce on the overwhelming amount of Chiefs mistakes or finish off counterattacking moves also contributed to the Reds downfall.

Reds coach Eddie Jones would have had a smile on his face at half-time after his team went into the break with a well deserved 16-10 lead. However the smiles would soon turn to tears as the home team failed to carry on where they left off by scoring just three more points to the Chiefs' eleven.

You can't say the home team didn't have an opportunity to sneak in with a win at the death. With sixteen seconds left on the clock and a drop-goal within Andrew Walker's sight, the Reds forwards failed to control a scrum 30 metres out from the sticks. The Chiefs huffed and puffed and swung the scrum around that led to the Reds sole try-scorer David Croft having to scrounge for the ball. The scrum turned into a ruck, with the Chiefs piling in like their lives depended on it.

The ball eventually came out for Walker's last attempt at glory, but the former Wallaby fullback failed with the distance and the direction. Chiefs fly-half Stephen Donald caught the mistimed kick, called a mark and then booted the ball into the stands to call it a day.

It was not a win that the Chiefs would like to remember either.

Even the return of All Blacks scrum-half Byron Kelleher and wing Sitiveni Sivivatu to the starting line-up couldn't help the Chiefs fire on all cylinders.

In fact, both players had far from impressive performances. Kelleher showed glimpses of why he is rated the number one scrum-half in New Zealand, but at times was overshadowed by his opposite number Nic Berry.

Sivivatu blew hot and cold in his return match for the Chiefs after his stint in New Zealand coach Graham Henry's 'cotton wool' club. A fantastic show of pace saw the lightning-quick winger save a certain try to Walker after an unkind bounce of the ball left Liam Messam red in the face.

With an open try-line calling Walker's name and the Reds players already celebrating, in came Sivivatu from out of nowhere to drag the number 15 into touch. Perhaps if Walker went on the same run a few years ago, things would have been different... but I somehow doubt it!

Sivivatu followed up that moment of brilliance with a below par performance with ball in hand, or the lack of keeping the ball in hand more like it.

But performances aside, a win is a win and the Chiefs can thank a brace of tries by lock Kristian Ormsby for helping his team get there.

The Reds struck first after a high tackle by Messam gave Walker an easy three points with the same amount of minutes gone on the clock.

The Chiefs were able to draw level after a sniping run by Kelleher, led to Reds loose forward Mitch Chapman tackling Sivivatu without the ball.

Messam soon made up for his earlier blunder by setting up the first try for Ormsby and his team after taking the blindside route from continued pressure on the Reds line. Messam picked the ball up from a ruck and made a superb pass to the right, only to rip his pass off a held-up Sione Lauaki and send Ormsby diving over in the corner.

Donald made a terrific conversion from the touchline and the Chiefs had a handy 10-3 lead after ten minutes.

Walker was on hand to narrow the lead to four points with a penalty kick soon afterwards, and again just moments later to take his team to within one point of their visitors.

The Reds comeback was really on after Messam was shown a yellow card for his second high tackle of the match.

It was to be an agonising ten minutes on the sidelines for the number eight after Croft was able to take advantage of fourteen players on the field.

Berry got the ball rolling after passing to his young pivot Quade Cooper, who then flipped the ball inside to a flying Croft who broke a tackle to speed 22 meters and touch down for a superb try.

The small flank proved dynamite comes in small packages, but had to leave the field with a cut to his bald head for his efforts.

Walker made the simple conversion, and the Reds were in front once again at 16-10.

It appeared the Chiefs had the harsher half-time talk out of the two teams as the visitors came out more determined and with more focus than their hosts.

With barely three minutes gone into the second half, Ormsby was over for try number two after the lock backed himself with a four-man overlap on his outside. The TMO was called in to judge the grounding of the ball which was impossible to see thanks to the Reds player's body parts blocking the camera's view. But the try was awarded and Donald missed the rather dolly of a conversion.

It took until the 74th minute for the Reds to finally get some points back on the board and regain the lead in what was turning out to be a slow see-saw battle between the two sides.

A silly mistake by Reds replacement prop Ernest Skelton cost his team a penalty and the lead after he was blown up for playing the ball off his feet.

With the uprights perched right in front of Donald, the number 10 had no trouble with the pressure kick while the small amount of Chiefs supporters went wild.

The Reds certainly never gave up, and had a couple of passes went to hand maybe it would have been a different story. But a gutted Reds captain John Roe summed up the game in the post match interview by saying: "We shouldn't need to rely on luck. We needed to make things happen on our own."

Man of the match: We've already mentioned the Chiefs' All Blacks performance in this too close for comfort encounter. Liam Messam proved how much his presence was needed when he was sin-binned for that 'misjudged' tackle, while two-time try scorer Ormsby really got his team out of trouble with his efforts. John Roe led superbly from the front and it was a shame the skipper couldn't back is fine perfomance with a win. 18-year-old fly-half Quade Cooper was too eager at times, but still showed some promising