Stifled Reds irked by breakdown 'bunfights'

Queensland coach Ewen McKenzie may shelve the team’s attack-at-all costs play after the Reds were stifled at the breakdown for a second successive week during their 44-21 loss to the Wellington Hurricanes on Friday.

McKenzie said the Reds’ running game, which had taken them to the verge of an improbable semifinal spot this season after years of underachievement, had been stifled by officials’ reluctance to penalise opponents for holding up play.

“It’s disappointing,” McKenzie told Australian Associated Press. “We’ve tried to play with a fair bit of spirit and we designed that [approach] around the laws of the game.

“[But] it’s quite clear now that teams have worked out that you just dive at the breakdown and make a bunfight there that can stop the continuity of the game.

“We started the season expecting a fairly strict management of the tackler rolling away. I think that’s creeping and so therefore makes it harder to play.

“We might have to go back to the drawing board because clearly spoiling tactics makes it too easy to ruin it.”

The Reds, who lost to the ACT Brumbies last week, will have to win their last match against the Otago Highlanders at home next week and then rely on favourable results in other fixtures to make the semifinals.

McKenzie stopped short of blaming match officials, however, and was more disappointed with the team’s lack of discipline.

On Friday, the Hurricanes scored two tries and captured the lead when flanker Anthony Shaw was sin-binned for a lifting tackle just after halftime.

“To be honest, we shouldn’t be looking at the ladder, we’re not even good enough to be looking at the ladder,” he said.
- Reuters

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