McReight masterclass, Uru statement: Reds smash Rebels in Aussie Super Rugby derby


Off the back of another Fraser McReight masterclass and an eye-catching display from Seru Uru, the Queensland Reds have put away the Rebels 53-26 in Melbourne to cement themselves in the top four of the Super Rugby Pacific competition standings.

The Reds blew away the Rebels in the first half, scoring five tries against a meek Rebels defence to set up their win.

But it wasn’t necessarily the Reds’ developing backline causing the damage, with all five of the visitors’ first half tries coming from the forward pack as Uru scored a double.

Seru Uru scored a first half double for the Reds against the Rebels at AAMI Park, on March 15, 2024, in Melbourne. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

The home side threatened to make a game of it in the second half, as they came out of the blocks quickly to cross for two quick tries.

A moment of madness from Glen Vaihu however killed the Rebels’ momentum, as the winger attempted to keep the ball in play but only managed to hit Josh Flook on the chest as he seemingly mistook the Reds centre for his own. It led to the Reds hitting back immediately.

The Rebels didn’t go away, as Tuiani Taii Tualima scored under the stocks, but another mistake centre field allowed replacement fly-half Tom Lynagh to break away and the Reds scored seconds later through Josh Nasser.

Flook finished with a double after some more McReight magic saw the midfielder cross out wide.

Reds co-skipper Liam Wright, who scored his side’s third try, said he was chuffed to come away with the big win despite a slow start to the second half.

“I’m really pleased with the result, 53 points away from home is a good result,” he said.

“We struggled in patches, I think that’s because Melbourne out-enthused us there.

“They really came out of the blocks in that second half, you could see that they were playing up-tempo and they were winning that gain line battle, but we fought our way back into it and capitalised on a few little errors to hurt their momentum. We’ll take a good result but there’s a lot to improve on.”

Josh Flook scored a second half double at AAMI Park, on March 15, 2024, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Rebels skipper Rob Leota lamented his side’s slow start, where the embattled franchise, who were coming off the back of consecutive wins, had no answer to the Reds’ quick ball as they offered little challenge at the ruck and offered little defensive linespeed.

“The first half wasn’t good enough,” Leota said.

“We were really passive in defence and if you give a great team like that, who has good flair, it just allowed them to easy points, so we’ve got to be better than that and work harder.”

McReight was once again outstanding in the win, as he twice got on the ball to deny the Rebels.

The first came in the 36th minute, as he won a penalty on his own line just as the Rebels looked like finally firing a shot.

The second came late in the match, as he stole it clean and set up their strong finish.

Of course, in-between his fine work on the defensive side of the ball, the openside flanker’s fine hands and strong work rate was on display.

Such was the commanding performance that not only is McReight a lock in the No.7 jersey, but he’s building a compelling case to enter the Wallabies captaincy debate.

Uru was another who delivered an eye-catching performance.

It’s razzle, it’s dazzle #SuperRugbyPacific #REBvRED

— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) March 15, 2024

The versatile forward has always had a point of difference with his ability to play through the middle and offload, but the 27-year-old is now consistently backing up his performances and doing his core roles well too.

Flook was another whose stocks continue to rise, as the midfielder scored a double and won a breakdown penalty late in the match after shifting to inside centre for the injured Isaac Henry.

For the Rebels, Kevin Foote shocked many when he replaced props Matt Gibbon and Taniela Tupou after 33 minutes.

The Rebels might have been passive in the opening half-hour, but Tupou won a breakdown penalty and was by no means the main culprit for their slow start.

The Rebels’ comeback was built off a stronger defensive linespeed and stronger leg drive through contact, but there was too much ground to make up after their hopeless first half.

The 27-point win saw the Reds climb up into second spot on 15 points, where they trail the ladder-leading Hurricanes (17) who earlier on Friday managed to sneak home against the winless Crusaders. The Rebels are fourth on 10 points.

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