VIDEO: McKenzie sent off as Reds survive Chiefs fightback
SUPER RUGBY TRANS-TASMAN REPORT: The Reds survived a late fightback from the Chiefs to secure a thrilling 40-34 win in Townsville on Saturday.
The Queenslanders became the first Australian team to beat Kiwi opposition this year in the 14th match between the rivals.
But the match wasn’t without controversy as Chiefs star flyhalf Damien McKenzie was sent off for a high shot on Tate McDermott in the first half.
McKenzie collected McDermott across the chin after he put Isaac Henry through a hole to score from 40 metres out. Under the current law trial, the Chiefs were allowed to replace McKenzie after 20 minutes.
Red for Damian McKenzie after making direct contact to the head 🟥
— StanSportAU (@StanSportAU) May 29, 2021
Henry later bagged a double just before the end of the half and was joined on the scoresheet by Suliasi Vunivalu and Feao Fotuaika.
The Reds got their first try through a penalty try from a deliberate knockdown and referee Nic Berry sent Chase Tiatia to the bin for the offence, with the visitors facing an uphill struggle with the score 33-3 at half-time.
But the Chiefs, in a brave bid not to come undone, scored five tries in the second half to scare the hosts.
Pita-Gus Sowakula was first to score before Tupou Vaa’ai and Reuben O’Neill made it just an 18-point deficit with little under 20 minutes to play.
When Bailyn Sullivan and Xavier Roe scored in the final 10 minutes, spectators were set for a barnstorming finish as the visitors tested the Reds defence.
Reds coach Brad Thorn stressed the importance of a solid defensive display this week and although conceding five tries, their last-ditch defence in the final minute was enough to see out the match.
Vunivalu and flyhalf James O’Connor were standouts for the home side, while Hunter Paisami was electric in the centres.
While the Reds finally ended their six-game slide against them, the defensive effort particularly in the second half will be an area of focus for Thorn.
Man of the match: Reds forwards Harry Wilson and Taniela Tupou gave the Chiefs plenty of problems with ball in hand. However, wings Suliasi Vunivalu and Filipo Daugunu were a constant threat out wide and they broke through the Chiefs’ defence on several occasions. They will share the award.
Tries: Penalty Try, Henry 2, Vunivalu, Fotuaika, Daugunu
Cons: O’Connor 4
Tries: Sowakula, Vaa’i, O’Neill, Sullivan, Roe
Cons: Trask 3
Red card: Damian McKenzie (Chiefs, 22 – foul play, dangerous/high tackle)
Yellow card: Chase Tiatia (Chiefs, 16 – cynical play, deliberate knock-down)
Reds: 15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Suliasi Vunivalu, 13 Hunter Paisami, 12 Isaac Henry, 11 Filipo Daugunu, 10 James O’Connor (co-captain), 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Liam Wright (co-captain), 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Ryan Smith, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 Feao Fotuaika.
Replacements: 16 Josh Nasser, 17 Dane Zander, 18 Zane Nonggorr, 19 Seru Uru, 20 Fraser McReight, 21 Kalani Thomas, 22 Hamish Stewart, 23 Ilaisa Droasese.
Chiefs: 15 Kaleb Trask, 14 Bailyn Sullivan, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Alex Nankivell, 11 Chase Tiatia, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Brad Weber (captain), 8 Luke Jacobson, 7 Lachlan Boshier, 6 Pita Gus Sowakula, 5 Tupou Vaa’i, 4 Mitchell Brown, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Bradley Slater, 1 Aidan Ross.
Replacements: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Reuben O’Neill, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Zane Kapeli, 20 Liam Messam, 21 Xavier Roe, 22 Quinn Tupaea, 23 Shaun Stevenson.
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant referees: Reuben Keane, Brett Cronan
TMO: Ian Smith
AAP & @rugby365com