Reds vs Sunwolves: Five things we learned

The Reds notched their first win of the season with a comeback 34-31 victory against the Sunwolves in Tokyo following a late penalty conversion from Hamish Stewart.

Here’s what we’re talking about after the match.

1. Winning at home becomes crucial

Victory against the Sunwolves was crucial for a Reds season that was on life support heading into the Tokyo clash.

With a morale-boosting comeback win under their belts, the Reds need to kick on in three consecutive home games against the Brumbies, Rebels and Stormers if they are to have any chance of making the finals.

Suncorp Stadium needs to be a fortress over the next month and the Reds must show they have learnt the lessons of a mixed opening month if they are to deliver on the potential they obviously have.

2. The Reds’ kicking needs to improve, and fast

The Reds kicking continues to be a concern and improved little with Lucas at flyhalf, with problems that have plagued the team all season continuing in Tokyo.

Charge downs, a failure to find relief with any distance – or find touch at all on occasions – and poor tactical kicking are causing real issues with field position and possession.

Back-to-back kick errors from Sefa Naivalu and Tate McDermott only highlighted what is a growing concern for the Reds. Stewart provided stability, especially in the second half, and has to be the frontline option even when Hegarty returns from injury.


3. Remember the KISS philosophy

Keep it Simple Stupid. It’s a mantra the Reds need to remember going forward.

The Reds made things seem easy at times in the second half with their dominance at the set piece as they kept the ball in hand.

And they don’t need to overcomplicate the game when a simple game plan will suffice. Maintaining possession is top of the list for the Reds but when they can hold on to the ball, their forwards will do much of the work for them.

4. McDermott must start

Moses Sorovi has worn the no.9 in each of the Reds’ four games this season but Tate McDermott’s showing in Tokyo, as well as his impact against the Waratahs when he came off the bench, show he must start if the Reds are to kick on.

While Sorovi marshalled his troops well for an early try from a rolling maul, McDermott added spark to the attack with quick ball at the breakdown that made the difference against the Sunwolves.

That delivery is a must if the Reds are to use their improved fitness to play a dominant forward game against Australian conference rivals the Brumbies and Rebels over the next fortnight.

5. Reds depth is no myth

Brad Thorn and his coaching staff have talked up the Reds’ depth as the best in a couple of years and it showed in Tokyo as the reserves led the second-half fightback against the Sunwolves.

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Already without Wallabies forwards Izack Rodda and Taniela Tupou, the Reds showed they lose little when injecting reserves into the pack, with Feao Fotuaika, Brandon Paenga-Amosa and Harry Hockings adding plenty when they were injected.

McDermott was a revelation and a late backline reshuffle allowed Filipo Daugunu to be ready to make the bullocking run in the dying minutes that put the Reds in penalty range.

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