Jones in victorious start at Reds

Eddie Jones’ career as the Reds’ Super 14 coach started in spectacular fashion when his team won their opening match of the 2007 season, beating the Hurricanes 25-16 in Brisbane on Saturday. The teams scored one try each, but it was Rugby League convert Clinton Schifcofske and young fly-half Berrick Barnes who gave the former Brumbies and Wallaby coach, Jones, victory over the 2006 finalists, the Hurricanes.

Schifcofske kicked a conversion and five penalties, while Barnes added a drop-goal and some deft touches allround to give the Reds a well-deserved victory – despite having been reduced to 14 men for 10 minute periods on two occasions.

For the Reds it was a great relief – victory over a team which has tormented them for so long. The victory was the thing, not the manner of its achievement.

They had a simple plan. Simple plans often work, as they make decision-making so much easier and cut down the margin of error. Their plan was just three words long – tackle, bash, kick.

That is not hard to remember and if the spirit is willing execution is relatively easy. It was tedious, unless you were ardently Red, but then Reds rugby has being tedious for some time, at least this was tedium with victory, and victory makes all things bright and wonderful.

From start to finish they tackled, reducing Ma’a Nonu to clumsy mediocrity, and when at last they were breached by speeding Corey Jane, the match was won.

They picked a big pack for the bashing with that massive pair of props – Rodney Blake and Greg Holmes. Even when the second half was reduced to feckless uncontested scrums, those two big men stayed there to bash and smash and crush Hurricane spirits.

The bashing kept them forward and behind that pack there was the boot of Berrick Barnes to keep them going further forward, and it was his boot that made their only try and his boot that kicked a long, demoralising drop. It was not the only boot for league convert Clinton Schifcofske kicked five -penalty goals. He missed two but he kicked five.

The Reds had the discipline to stick to their game plan, but they were reckless in their conformity to the laws of the game, especially at the tackle – where their determination to prevent the Hurricanes from having loose ball cost them 11 of the 16 penalties they conceded and two yellow cards, one for James Horwill in the first half and one for Mitch Chapman in the second.

That only five of those 16 penalties could be aimed at goal tells the story of the Reds’ territorial supremacy.

After the match skipper John Roe admitted that their ill-discipline was unnerving. In fact the early part of the match was cantankerous in a fairly childish way – playground pushing and snarling.

But there was no doubting their passionate intensity.

The Hurricanes gave no signs of great passion at all. They were minus some top players, which was no fault of their opponents, but still they were largely pedestrian till the end when they started moving the ball wide with moderately better handling.

If Schifcofske, at the age of 31, was making his Reds’ debut, Ben Tune and Sean Hardman celebrated their century of matches for Queensland.

There was a good deal of Hurricane support at Suncorp, which meant that there was more or less equal booing of the goal-kickers.

Schifcofske got two penalty goals in the first six minutes, the first when Neemia Tialata tackled high, the second after one of many turnovers the determined Reds produced in the match. Then Jimmy Gopperth got one after David Croft had tackled high.

On 6-3 the Reds scored an exciting try.

They went right where Barnes broke and gave to Tune who darted strongly ahead. The ball came back to Barnes going left and he stabbed a perfect punt diagonally across the field where tall Chapman caught the ball and plunged to earth for the try, which Schifcofske converted.

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