The Queensland Reds have blown another chance to beat a team from New Zealand in the Super Rugby Pacific competition.
Queensland has suffered a second successive Super Rugby Pacific loss to New Zealand opposition, with a 14-man Chiefs side holding on to defeat the Reds 27-25 at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
Beaten 30-17 by the Hurricanes a week earlier in Melbourne, the Reds again failed another test against a Kiwi side, this time on their home ground.
Rubbing salt into Queensland’s wounds was a calf injury suffered by powerhouse Wallabies prop Taniela Tupou late in the first half.
At the time of Tupou’s departure, the Reds led 13-6.
However, the Chiefs then took control of the contest, scoring three of the game’s next four tries to lead 27-18 entering the final 15 minutes.
They suffered a late scare when replacement Samipieni Finau was sent off for a high and dangerous tackle on Reds flanker Fraser McReight in the 76th minute.
The Queenslanders took advantage of their extra man to score a minute later through centre Hunter Paisami.
The try was converted by flyhalf Lawson Creighton, but the Chiefs composed themselves to hold on for the victory.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for the Reds, who again paid the price for some poor discipline and handling and kicking errors at crucial stages in the game.
No.8 Harry Wilson and fullback Jock Campbell both spent time in the sin bin, leaving Queensland with just 14 men on the field for a quarter of the contest.
While the Reds remain well and truly in the competition’s top eight with seven wins from 10 matches, their inability to beat teams from New Zealand will be a concern for Queensland coach Brad Thorn.
“I thought there was an opportunity there to get the result, but credit to our opponent,” Thorn said.
“There were some little moments there where we didn’t capitalise …but they were better on the day and they got the result.”
Also worrying for Thorn will be the Chiefs’ scrum dominance, even while Tupou was on the field in what was a cagey affair early on.
The teams traded penalties to be level at 6-6 after 27 minutes before the Reds scored the game’s first try on the half-hour mark through Wilson.
Referee Paul Williams initially ruled it was no try before video replays showed that Wilson in fact grounded the ball on the tryline among a sea of bodies.
The Reds held on to a seven-point lead until scrum pressure from the Chiefs finally told well after the half-time siren sounded, with halfback Cortez Ratima crossing from close range in the seventh extra minute of the first half.
Flyhalf Bryn Gatland – whose kicking was to prove the difference – converted to make it 13-13 at the break.
The Chiefs assumed control of the game after half-time with tries from Samisoni Taukei’aho and Pita Sowakula.
Reds winger Josh Flook Queensland’s also scored in the second half, with Paisami’s late try bringing the Reds agonisingly close but not close enough.