The Reds finally delivered in round four of Super rugby 2020. While the Sharks have been delivering since round one. The Reds need a win this week to stay in touch with Aussie conference leader the Brumbies and to create some momentum before their match with the Crusaders in Round six while the Sharks would love to end their road trip with two wins from three games.
The Reds started the year with three straight losses on their trip around the world. They struggled with penalty counts and second-half fades in South Africa and Argentina but looked to be in both matches for the first fifty minutes. They had a field day against the Sunwolves last weekend racking up 64 points in a wonderful display of attacking rugby and pleasingly the penalties mostly disappeared.
The lineout problems from the first three games seem to be sorting themselves out but the Reds scrum is going from strength to strength with only the thrown together reserve front row proving to be a problem. The Reds maul defence, which has been shakey, was much improved with the Sunwolve not able to get any traction in that area. The Reds back five has the work-rate and power to match it with anyone in the comp on their day.
The Reds backs have really stepped up in the last few weeks and are starting to compliment the forward power they’ve had for a few years now. James O’Connor after a few false starts has turned me into a believer. The 9, 10, 12, 15 combinations are starting to click and that’s bringing the outside backs into the play more often.
The Sharks are a wonderful team to watch at the moment. All power and speed. They have three wins from four starts with two of those wins on the road. Last week in Ballarat, despite two yellow cards, they took the Rebels apart 36-24. The Sharks game management during the yellow cards was spot on even if the Rebels response was confusing. Makazole Mapimpi two tries were a highlight but the entire matchday squad new what to do and when and how to do it.
James O’Connor v Curwin Bosch I’m expecting the fly-halves to have a ding dong battle in this. Bosch, while only 22 has 50 caps for the sharks and a couple of test caps. O’Connor is feeling his way into his 700th positional change but has never looked this at ease at 10.
The Reds forwards should hold a weight advantage over the Sharks pack and their scrum is a weapon. The sharks pack put out an improved performance against the Rebels last week but this is a significant step up for them. The lineout and loose play is there for either team to take but the return of 206 cm Giant Harry Hocking should improve the Reds lineout hopes.
For the Reds, the bulk of that side remains with Harry Hocking replacing Angus Blyth, who gets a rest and Angus Scott-Young returning from a week off pushing Lukan Salakaia-Loto to the bench in Hocking’s spot. Filipo Daugunu has completed his five-week ban for a lifting tackle and slips into Bryce Hegarty’s spot on the bench.
For the Sharks, Lukhanyo Am returns after his Springbok rest week but, three other players are having theirs this week. This weekend it’s the turn of wing Makazole Mapimpi, together with backrowers Tyler Paul and James Venter.
Dylan Richardson and Henco Venter starts on either side of the scrum, with Louis Schreuder returning at scrumhalf. In the final two changes, Lwazi Mvovo takes over from Mapimpi and Am is back in place of Jeremy Ward.
The Reds have played the Sharks 20 times in Super rugby since 1998 and the Reds have won 11 matches, lost 9 times and drawn none.
The Reds 11 wins out of 20 matches gives them a record of winning 55% of their matches against the Sharks regardless of venue.
This weekend the match will be played in Brisbane, which is home for the Reds and the city where the teams have met 10 times.
In those 10 matches played in Brisbane, the Reds have won 7 matches and lost 3. This gives the Reds a record of winning 70% of their matches against the Sharks at home.
The average score when the Reds play the Sharks in Brisbane is: Reds 25 Sharks 24.
Since 2005 and through the last seven matches these teams have alternated wins in Brisbane and if this trend continues the Sharks will win this weekend.
Average score: Reds 23 Sharks 24
Last five results
Sat, 20 Apr 2019 Reds 21-14 Sharks @Durban
Fri, 24 Feb 2017 Reds 28-26 Sharks @Brisbane
Fri, 22 May 2015 Reds 14-21 Sharks @Brisbane
Sat, 15 Mar 2014 Reds 20-35 Sharks @Durban
Fri, 10 May 2013 Reds 32-17 Sharks @Brisbane
Reds overall record against the Sharks
Played 20, Wins 11, Losses 9, Draws 0
15 Jock Campbell, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Hunter Paisami, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Henry Speight, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Liam Wright (captain), 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Harry Hockings, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Alex Mafi, 1 JP Smith
Replacements: 16 Ed Craig, 17 Harry Hoopert, 18 Josh Nasser, 19 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 20 Fraser McReight, 21 Scott Malolua, 22 Isaac Lucas, 23 Filipo Daugunu
15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Ox Nche
Replacements:16 Craig Burden, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Le Roux Roets, 20 Phepsi Buthelezi, 21 Sanele Nohamba, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Jeremy Ward
Match Officials and details
Date : Saturday 29 February
Venue : Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-Off local: 18:15
Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant Ref 1:Graham Cooper Assistant Ref 2:Jordan way
TMO : James Leckie