Well the Reds locked down the Super 15 minor premiership on Saturday night after controlling the game against the Chiefs. Although not an game for the ages, the Reds played like they did against the Rebels a few weeks ago by simply controlling the game and its tempo by exerting clinical dominance when required. Gill was the prime example of this as his ability to stay on his feet and control the chiefs forward momentum by continually pilfering their ball. The win gets them a vital rest next week and allows a few injured to return.
Although the Reds are the deb of the ball this season they committed the cardinal sin of loosing their Slipper early in the night. James Slipper has rolled his ankle and is in serious doubt to make the semi-final which means that Holmes will have to step up and play like he did when he represented the wallabies. This is going to put huge pressure on the Reds scrum and when they do play in a fortnight time against one of three possible sides: Sharks, NSW or most likely the Blues.
The 2011 premier red is welcome relief after years of soul destroying efforts that have been churned out. Part of their success this year has been the reserves as injuries have cut a swath through the side. The ability of the squad, academy players and those from outside (e.g. Caleb Ralph) to inject themselves into the side and offer the side genuine skills instead of a number squatting in the side has been critical. While the ability of Link, the coaching staff and the board to focus the side and get the enthusiasm into the side is a credit. Part of the success has also been due to the former coach Phil Mooney spotting talent and developing players. But the transformation of the sides confidence and skills over the last two years has simply been a joy to watch.
Well onto the final series which are knock-out style. The two matches this weekend Blues v NSW and then the Crusaders v Sharks obviously determine who the Reds and the Stormers face in a fortnight time. Well done to the Stormers on coming second and enjoy the week off. However, the critical home ground advantage belongs to the Reds. So if they win the semi-final the grand final will be at Lang Park whose new turf will be 3 weeks old. The last time the Reds lofted the trophy was in 1995 when is was the Super 10. Its been way to long and there is no way I'll miss the grand final.