Dejected Reds after the loss. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty
Dejected Reds after the loss. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty

Ruthless Sharks tear Reds’ season to shreds

A Shark bite deflated the Reds' season when a faster, smarter and more aggressive South African side showed them what it takes to make the play-offs.

The 33-23 loss to the Durban-based Sharks was a devastating jolt that surprised the Queenslanders at Suncorp Stadium.

There had been patches of fine play even in the three losses leading up to last weekend's 64-5 smashing of the Sunwolves and the Reds might have expected more improvements last night.

Instead, it was a messy night full of missed chances, frustration when attacks were blunted, errors and sheer waste from five bungled attacking lineouts.


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This had been a must-win game because slumping to a 1-4 ledger is no position to fly into an even tougher game against the champion crusaders in Christchurch on Friday.

The Sharks were as formidable as forecast with their disruptive rush defence, aggression to fleece ball at the breakdown and their sheer pace.

The match was still up for grabs at the 65-minute mark with the Sharks leading 21-16 thanks to two massive Curwin Bosch penalty goals.

Taniela Tupou was celebrating a low, leg-pumping surge to the tryline to level the scores which Kiwi referee Brendon Pickerill blew as a five-pointer.

Only on video review, was it ruled that the prop's desperation had included scrambling along the turf for enough centimetres for it to be disallowed.

Rushing Sharks defenders were a constant and a few minutes later Springboks centre Lukhanyo Am was in the 

James O’Connor nurses an ankle injury. Picture: AAP/Darren England
James O’Connor nurses an ankle injury. Picture: AAP/Darren England


Reds' line when he intercepted Hunter Paisami's pass and raced 55m to score.

Game over.

Flanker Angus Scott-Young had a superb game for the Reds as one of their few high-performers.

The Reds' lineout had been a reliable source of ball until last night's first half when there were four misfires on attack within 25m of the Sharks' tryline.

Things got harder when general James O'Connor left the field with a possible ankle injury at the 46-minute mark.

The Reds still rallied with halfback spark Tate McDermott scoring on a quick tap-and-dart from a short-arm penalty 5m out for 16-15.

When McDermott was replaced at the 56-minute mark, the Reds did seem to lose their attacking edge for a disappointed crowd of 13,323.

The Queensland rugby "pathways" may be producing plenty of scrummagers, leaping locks and strong-running backs but the factory must have no kicking division.

Sharks flyhalf Curwin Bosch embarrassed the Reds in the first half with the length on his kicks for touch and the hang time on his kick-offs for chasing wingers.


Madosh Tambwe (right) soars over Henry Speight. Picture: AAP/Darren England
Madosh Tambwe (right) soars over Henry Speight. Picture: AAP/Darren England


In the second half, penalty goals from 48m and an angled 47m from Bosch both soared over the crossbar.

By comparison, Reds fullback Jock Campbell had a kick charged down and sliced another weakly to touch while O'Connor had a grubber kick blocked and no great distance on his clearing kicks.

Women's Reds goalkicker Lori Cramer knocked over three conversions from near touch in the early game and you'd back her to beat Campbell in a shootout from out wide.

Replacement prop Harry Hoopert had a tough time in the scrums when pushed around by Springboks prop Thomas du Toit and his 20kg size advantage.

SHARKS 33 (K van Vuuren, D Richardson, M Tambwe, L Am tries; C Bosch 2 con, 3 pen goal) bt REDS 23 (H Speight, T McDermott, E Craig tries; J Campbell con, 2 pen goal)