‘Tough call’: Reds too good for Tahs in cracking Aussie derby, as controversial penalty try, yellow to Jorgo proves telling

Les Kiss’ reaction said it all.

In his first Super Rugby match in charge of the Queensland Reds, the former Maroons State of Origin winger was like a jackrabbit in the coach’s box as he watched his new side put on a display that will warm the hearts of those north of the Tweed border.

The Reds turned down shots at goal and backed their ability to find the tryline. More often than not, they did.

In the end, the Reds scored six tries to three to record a comfortable 40-22 win in wet conditions to get their season off to the perfect start.

The decisive moment came on the stroke of half-time, as the Reds were awarded a penalty try when New Zealand referee deemed Max Jorgensen made contact with Jordan Petaia a split second too early when trying to prevent the try.

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Tate McDermott celebrates after scoring at the Waratahs at Suncorp Stadium, on February 24, 2024. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Not only did it allow the Reds to take a 21-15 lead into half-time, but it meant the Waratahs were without their talented 19-year-old fullback for the opening quarter of the second half.

At the time, former Wallaby turned Stan Sport pundit Morgan Turinui said the yellow card on top of the penalty try was too harsh.

“It’s too much of a penalty for that,” he said.

Coleman said he would have liked to have seen a different angle, while captain Jake Gordon said it was a “really tough play” but added it was “rugby”.

Star Reds flanker Fraser McReight admitted the moment was the decisive turning point.

“If we don’t score that try, it’s 14-15 in the sheds. Getting that seven points, playing 10 minutes with 14 men, I think that was huge for us and took the wind out of the Tahs’ sails,” McReight said.

While the Waratahs defended stoutly to begin with, their ill-discipline eventually caught up with them as the Reds scored two tries in five minutes to open the game up.

Although Dylan Pietsch completed a fortuitous brace of tries to keep the Waratahs in the hunt, Fraser McReight’s try in the 64th minute then sealed the deal.

What a finish from Tate McDermott ????#SuperRugbyPacific #REDvWAR pic.twitter.com/w0fO6JW2VR

— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) February 24, 2024

The 18-point loss leaves the Waratahs and particularly their coach Darren Coleman, who reportedly has until the end of March to convince the NSW board he is the man to back beyond this season, with the men in blue to take on three New Zealand teams in a row, starting with the Crusaders next week.

Defence will be one of the big improvements for the Waratahs, with too many first-up tackles being missed.

The Reds’ ability to free their arms and offload the ball troubled the Waratahs all night, with Harry Wilson and Seru Uru running amok in the greasy conditions.

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