Humphries in doubt for Reds’ Stormers clash

X-rays have cleared Reds lock Van Humphries of any bone damage to the ankle he injured in last night’s 19-12 victory over the Bulls but he remains in doubt for next Friday’s match against the Stormers at Suncorp Stadium.

A relieved Head coach Ewen McKenzie said the injury was not as bad as first feared but more will be known tomorrow once Humphries has scans on his ankle when the swelling has gone down.

“It’s not broken, but we’ll have to see how it pulls up tomorrow. Obviously he’s in doubt for Friday but we’ll know more in the next 24 hours,” McKenzie said.

There were no other injuries from the match, which elevated the Reds into the top four for the first time since the early 2000s.

The win came in front of 26,669 vocal fans and puts the Reds in fourth place on the competition ladder with 30 points, behind only the Bulls, Crusaders and Stormers.

The competition leading Bulls came hard at the Reds in the concluding stages and almost pegged back a 19-7 lead the Queenslanders enjoyed late in the game, but the Reds responded when they needed and doggedly defended their line for the final five minutes.

The Reds’ defence put an exclamation mark on the win but the win came from a beautifully constructed gameplan by coach Ewen McKenzie, who instructed his team to retain possession at all costs to limit the Bulls opportunity at set-pieces.

“All credit to the players. We had a very specific gameplan and they went out and made it happen,” McKenzie said.

“We didn’t want to give them the ball and we had to find ways to be creative. It’s hard to play 80 minutes and not give them the ball, but that was our intention. We did pretty well and we didn’t give them the lineouts they wanted to set up their game with.”

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke credited the Reds’ gameplan and their ability to retain possession as the best he had seen in “quite some time”.

“They played a really expansive style, but their retention was spot on. Definitely one of the best continuity performances I have seen in a long time,” Ludeke said.

“To keep the ball that long and to keep it off the opposition is something to see.”

The Reds’ eagerness to play with the ball helped the Bulls get first points with a length of the field movement finished off by flanker Derick Kuun coming after turnover when the Reds were on attack.

That didn’t faze the Queenslanders and their up-tempo game was a major factor in scoring 19 unanswered points and tiring the Bulls’ large forward pack.

The Bulls threw everything at the Reds in the final stages but a turnover by wily veteran Sean Hardman on their goal line spelt the end of a prolonged raid and coincidentally the match.

Starting hooker Saia Faingaa and openside flanker Daniel Braid put in tireless performances, while the Reds’ front-row drew two penalties and a tighthead from their Springboks counterparts at the scrum.

“They (players) showed plenty of character and application over the 80 (minutes). Everyone probably thought we were going to wilt, but we went the distance,” McKenzie said.

Going into the game the match was billed as a great opportunity for flyhalf Quade Cooper and captain Genia to test themselves against Bulls and Springboks’ playmakers Fourie du Preez and Morne Steyn.

After passing the test with flying colours, McKenzie praised his halves combinations for carrying out their gameplan to perfection.

“We knew they would mark Quade’s channel pretty hard, so Will had to take a fair bit of the workload and pump the short side. We just tried to get them confused by working both sides of the ruck,” he said.

Flanker Scott Higginbotham scored the Reds’ first try after running 80 minutes to reclaim a ball sitting on the ground following a turnover and kick by Genia, who said he was amazed by the pace of the 109kg flanker in beating the Bulls’ centres to the ball.

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