Reds achieve their goal
THE NSW Waratahs surrendered an eight-point lead with less than five minutes to play as Tim Walsh kicked the Queensland Reds to a 26-24 victory in the first Super 14 rugby union trial match of 2010 in Lismore on Saturday night.
Walsh had been offered only a short-term contract, which expires in February, after pestering Reds mentor Ewen McKenzie for an opportunity – he hasn’t played Super 14 since 2004.
With the cloud that hangs over first choice No 10 Quade Cooper, Walsh must now be some chance of securing a more desirable deal.
Coach McKenzie was more than pleased with the effort of the 30-year-old, who came on at half-time and righted the Reds’ ship.
“Walshy put his hand up and pestered me for a look-in,” McKenzie said.
“I found a spot for him and he has repaid by doing a great job out there tonight.”
A crowd of 3628 turned out to Oakes Oval to see the Super 14 fringe players lay down their cards.
Plenty put their hands up for recognition on a night that will surely pose some happy headaches for each State coach.
The Tahs’ Chris Hickey – a former Ballina Seahorses coach – was non-plussed with the result but happy to see his players blow the cobwebs out.
“The scoreboard isn’t really significant tonight,” Hickey said.
“It was a pretty good skill level out there, which is pleasing for a first run.”
Hickey singled out Waratahs Academy player Alex Rokobaro as one to watch.
“He showed plenty of ability out on the wing, certainly did his cause a lot of good,” he said
There was a raft of youngsters who stood up to be counted, right from the opening whistle
South African import Hendrik Roodt was strong in the middle of the park in his first game in the Waratahs jumper, stamping his as a direction opponents will not want to run.
The NSW halves Josh Holmes and Brendan McKibbin showed plenty of spark in the battle to be Luke Burgess’ back-up. Both scored a try; Holmes a trademark dummy and run from close to the line, while McKibbin started and finished a blindside raid in the second half.
McKibbin showed the better direction of the pair but also threw a few errant passes which will surely come to the eye of Hickey.
Reds Academy player Ben Tapuai was a standout in the Queensland backline, producing a pair of scything line breaks and showing vision to attack the short side and set up Richard Kingi for the final try.
The Reds’ decision to kick for goal every time three points was on offer stifled the trial and brought jeers from the crowd, but signalled the visitors’ intentions in a match they did not want to lose.
After Kingi and Ben Lucas sprayed shots wide in the first half, Walsh put his hand up in the second and drilled five from five, which proved the difference.
QUEENSLAND REDS 26 (J Kennedy, R Kingi tries; T Walsh 4 penalty goals, conversion; B Lucas conversion) d NSW WARATAHS 24 (B McKibbin, D Sigg, J Holmes tries; McKibbin 2 conversions, penalty goal; D Halangahu conversion).