Clinical Chiefs end Queensland Reds Super Rugby season with demolition job in Waikato

By Darren Walton for Australian Associated Press

23:06 07 June 2024, updated 23:06 07 June 2024

  • Reds as contenders for 2024
  • Were pushed from kick-off against the Chiefs
  • I have decided to use the momentum for future success

The Queensland Reds are looking ahead to future success after a season full of hope and promise ended in disappointment: they lost the first quarter-final of the Super Rugby Pacific in Hamilton by 43-21 to the Chiefs.

The ruthless and determined Chiefs scored four unanswered tries in the first half to lead 31-0 at halftime and set up the Reds' crushing defeat at FMG Stadium Waikato.

With three wins against New Zealand opponents for the first time since 2013, including a breakthrough victory over the defending champions Crusaders in Christchurch and a round three win over the Chiefs in Brisbane, the Reds firmly believed they could be title contenders in 2024.

But their dreams were dashed within 15 minutes on Friday night when the Chiefs quickly took a 21-0 lead with an early try from hooker Samisoni Taukei'aho and another try from winger Emoni Narawa.

The Queensland Reds had no answer to the Chiefs' early onslaught and were shot down after just 15 minutes.
It comes after a season that promised so much but ended in the quarter-finals in Waikato
The Reds threatened a comeback in the second half through the attack of Wallabies No. 9 Tate McDermott, but could not make up the deficit.

The Chiefs were wild at the breakdown and dominated physically.

But it was a brilliant chip from master playmaker Damian McKenzie and a re-gather and kick-on from fullback Shaun Stevenson that enabled the Chiefs' fourth try – completed by Etene Nanai-Seturo – and the game-deciding half-time lead.

Queensland briefly threatened to catch up with the first try of the second half by co-captain and Wallabies number 9 Tate McDermott.

But normal operations resumed when All Blacks ace Anton Lienert-Brown scored the Chiefs' fifth try in the 55th minute, extending the hosts' unassailable lead to 38-7.

McDermott scored a second goal for the Reds, but it was only a consolation as Queensland captain Liam Wright regretted the missed opportunity.

“There’s a lot to like,” Wright said.

“We obviously wanted to achieve everything this year. That's what every team wants to achieve.”

“We thought we had chances, but we just couldn't take advantage of them in this game.”

“But we've brought some really good people into the team, we've put together some great combinations with the new coaches and we're looking forward to what this group can continue to achieve.”

“We just have to keep working harder to be better in these moments.”

“We're showing bits and pieces of it. We're getting ready for a game where we can be competitive and beat good teams like the Chiefs.”

“So that's our goal. Tonight it was probably the breakdown that let us down a little bit.”

Former Chiefs player Sam Cane was at the game with his son Hudson and his wife Harriet Cane
Queensland hopes to use the 2024 season as a platform for future Super Rugby success

Queensland's narrow exit from the competition leaves the ACT Brumbies with Australia's best chance of breaking the Kiwis' decades-long stranglehold on the Super Rugby title.

But the Brumbies not only have to eliminate the Highlanders in Canberra on Saturday, they now also have to rely on the soon-to-be-extinct Melbourne Rebels to beat the league leaders Hurricanes and thus secure a place in the semi-finals at home.

Otherwise, the Brumbies would have to become the first Australian team ever to win a final on the other side of the Tasman Sea when they travel to New Zealand to stay in the title race.

No matter who they play or where they play, the Chiefs are confident they can win the competition for the first time since 2012 after falling in the semi-finals last year.

“I have a lot of confidence,” said captain Luke Jacobson.

“We are preparing at the right time. We are reaching our peak.”

“So you don't have to do it during the season. It counts in the final and that is our only goal.”