The Queensland Reds have named an unchanged side as they look to reverse a worrying Super Rugby trend this weekend against the Cheetahs.
The Reds will go into Saturday night’s clash with the same squad that fell 40-22 to the Stormers last week, the second of two losses they suffered on a brief but brutal tour of South Africa.
The first one, against the Bulls in Pretoria, followed largely the same script – Queensland worked hard, got in front, then dropped their bundle as soon as their opponents started applying pressure.
It has been the story of the season for the Reds, who are now a suitably competitive side that simply can’t seem to get past their own mistakes and foibles.
“We were shattered with the last 15-20 minutes of both games against the Bulls and Stormers,” interim co-coach Nick Stiles said.
“We’re playing two of the strongest South African sides you can play, away from home in very hostile territory, and you get to the 60-minute mark and you’re well in those games.
“But the inability to finish off is something we were very unhappy with.”
The Cheetahs present a rare opportunity for a Reds win, with tough matches in New Zealand against the Crusaders and Hurricanes to follow.
Despite last week’s defeat to the Melbourne Rebels, the Cheetahs appear to be in formidable touch, having thrashed the Sunwolves 92-17 two weeks ago.
The unchanged line-up means another chance for Queensland No.8 Curtis Browning, who had his best game for the franchise against the Stormers, filling in for the injured Jake Schatz (knee).
“Anyone who’s been around the Brisbane rugby scene would know there’s been a lot of talk and a lot of hope about Curtis Browning when he was a young schoolboy,” Stiles said.
“To see him finally put together a performance like that was very encouraging for us and probably for him.”
Lock Ben Matwijow retained his place in the starting side ahead of Cadeyrn Neville, while Junior Laloifi is on the wing, with Chris Feauai-Sautia to miss another week due to a rolled ankle.
Queensland Reds: Karmichael Hunt, Junior Laloifi, Samu Kerevi, Anthony Fainga’a, Eto Nabuli, Jake McIntyre, Nick Frisby, Curtis Browning, Liam Gill, Hendrik Tui, Rob Simmons, Ben Matwijow, Greg Holmes, Andrew Ready, James Slipper (capt). Reserves: Saia Fainga’a, Sef Fa’agase, Sam Talakai, Cadeyrn Neville, Michael Gunn, James Tuttle, Duncan Paia’aua, Ayumu Goromaru.