Hurricanes smash Queensland Reds in Tom Lynagh debut, Wallabies analysis, Eddie Jones
Rugby royalty was on display in Townville. Unfortunately, for the Queensland Reds, it wasn’t on the ground.
With Wallabies coach Eddie Jones in the stands and Michael Lynagh – the former Test captain and 1991 World Cup-winning playmaker – fresh off the plane to watch his son, Tom, make his debut, the famous duo watched on as the Hurricanes gave the Reds an early taste of what it could be like without Taniela Tupou.
With Tupou injured for the year and off to Melbourne next year, the Reds were smashed at the set-piece while their defence was woeful in the humidity of North Queensland as the Hurricanes won with a bonus point 47-13.
Reds captain Tate McDermott described it as a “reality check”, but the reality is the Reds won just one of 11 matches against New Zealand opposition over the past two years.
Missing key forwards, particularly in the second-row, as well as big names James O’Connor, Jock Campbell and Suliasi Vunivalu, the Reds were always going to be stretched to the limit.
The Reds started well enough, accumulating points with early shots at goals as Lynagh struck the ball as cleanly as his ol’ man once did.
They even went into half-time only trailing 16-13, but the gaps were clear as day and ready to be exposed in the second half.
While it took half-an-hour for the Hurricanes to find some groove, as the visitors from Wellington regularly turned the ball over in the slippery conditions, the New Zealand side turned it on in the second half by running in five tries.
The visitors ascendency came after the Reds went down to 14 men twice in a row either side of half-time, as Ryan Smith’s desperate hit off the ball on Jordie Barrett came back to bite hard and, later, Seru Uru was sent to the sin bin for illegally collapsing an unstoppable maul.
The Reds gave away 15 penalties while the 31 missed tackles proved just as costly.
McDermott highlighted the area of concern in his post-match interview, describing himself as a “broken record” when pointing out their ill-discipline.
Fraser McReight was the Reds’ best, with the openside flanker one of the few players for the home side to impress. His back-row partner Harry Wilson was everywhere, too.
Jordan Petaia was another who shone, with Test utility back showing promise at fullback, while McDermott had a tough night with his boot letting him down at times.
Lynagh showed promise with his core skills strong, including his impeccable kick, but the young No.10 needs to flatten up and take the line on more while his defence will be a constant work-on against the bigger physical bodies from across the ditch.
“He’s got the core elements of a good No.10,” former Queensland captain James Horwill told Stan Sport.
“He comes across as a good English No.10; he kicks really well, picks his moments.
“He’s going to get better, he’s going to build into his frame. He’s obviously a bit small at the moment. They were defending him either at fullback or the left-wing, probably to (keep) him away from guys like [Julian] Savea and Jordie Barrett coming down his channel. Once he does grow into his body a little bit, he is only 19, the sky’s the limit for him.”
The Reds jumped out to an early 6-0 lead after Lynagh landed two early penalties, but Barrett returned serve with two penalties of his own to level up the score after 26 minutes.
Petaia barged his way over to score after Hunter Paisami nearly forced his way over after picking up the scraps from a clever cross-field kick from Lynagh under advantage.
But within a flash the Reds were on the backfoot and missed tackles from Lynagh and McDermott allowed Billy Proctor to score.
Smith’s yellow card after 34 minutes was the turning point of the match.
Barrett ensured the Hurricanes took the lead from the clumsy challenge, while the Reds copped a double dose of pain when a collapsed maul resulted in a penalty try and a yellow card to Uru.
The Reds had chances in the second half, but under fatigue their skills failed to stand up and the Hurricanes ran in another four tries to start their season in emphatic style.