Reds regret McKenzie farewell performance
July 20, 2013
Tom Marshall and his Crusaders team-mates dominated Queensland to stay in the race for the title © Getty Images
Queensland Reds have lamented farewelling master coach Ewen McKenzie with a limp 38-9 Super Rugby finals loss as they were outclassed and overpowered by the red-hot Crusaders in Christchurch.
As clinical and brutal as the Crusaders were, Reds vice-captain Will Genia labelled it an "incredibly disappointing" display in what was a punishing qualifying final wipeout on Saturday night. The Reds had no answer to the home side's clever attack and menacing defence as they dominated all facets of the game for a four-try rout at AMI Stadium.
Queensland had hoped to extend new Wallabies coach McKenzie's successful tenure for another week by breaking a 14-year drought in Christchurch but were on the ropes early at 10-0 down in 10 minutes, and things never improved.
Skipper James Horwill, replaced on the hour mark with his team trailing 28-9, admitted it was a terrible way to mark McKenzie's last game in charge.
"He's a massive part of what this team has been about for the last four years and he deserved better than a performance like that tonight to be sent out on," he said.
Richard Graham will hold the reins in 2014 for a side which will also be missing Digby Ioane (Stade Francais), Radike Samo (Japan), Jono Lance (New South Wales Waratahs) and Luke Morahan (Western Force).
"We spoke before the game about sending out those guys on a good note,"Genia said. "We didn't play well and that's even more disappointing, the fact now they leave on a poor performance. We were just outclassed."
The dynamic champions of 2011, Queensland have failed to reproduce the same attacking spark and enterprise this season as they crossed for just 32 tries - the third least in the competition. That lack of potency was shown up by the highly disciplined Crusaders' brick-wall defence.
The Reds were static and predictable with the ball in the first half as the Crusaders' fast-rushing defence pressured and smothered their ball-carriers and then slowed their ball at the breakdown.
In contrast, the home side probed effectively both on the wider fringes and through the middle and carved up for a 21-6 half-time lead and all the running.
Follow live text commentary of the Super Rugby qualifier between the Brumbies and the Cheetahs on Sunday, July 21, from 5.45pm (NZT), 3.45pm (EST), 6.45am (GMT)
They only conceded one line break and superbly kept their line intact in an extended pressure period midway through the second half when it appeared flanker Liam Gill, the Reds' best, had finally scored. The try was denied by Television Match Official Vinny Munro and two minutes later a Reds error saw the ball hoofed downfield before Richie McCaw made a storming run and Dan Carter sent centre Ryan Crotty over for his second try.
Carter, who finished with 23 points, had also put Crotty over for his team's first when the centre bashed past Lance to score and set an ominous tone. The Crusaders' sixth straight win now pits them into a likely semi-final against the defending champions the Chiefs in Hamilton, and it would be a brave man to bet against the south islanders.
The Crusaders defeated the Reds in some style (video available only in Australia)
Munster, No.8s, the imploding Australians, wonderful Glasgow and Lancaster's dilemma - it is Monday Maul time
As Ewen McKenzie exits stage left, the ARU remains under huge pressure, with CEO Bill Pulver feeling the brunt of Australian rugby's displeasure, Greg Growden writes
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the remarkable events in Brisbane and the first round of the European Rugby Champions Cup
Following Saturday's shock announcement, we look at the highs and the lows of Ewen McKenzie's brief stint as Wallabies coach.