Super Rugby Pacific: Queensland Reds survive late charge to inflict first defeat on Chiefs

Queensland Reds have bounced back from their heatbreaking 'golden point' loss last week to topple the previously unbeaten Chief 25-19 at Brisbane.

The result leaves the Hurricanes - their conquerors in extra time seven days earlier - as the only remaining team undefeated in 2024 Super Rugby Pacific.

The Chiefs had a chance to snatch victory late, counterattacking from their own 22 and compiling 23 phases of pressure on the tryline, but could not pierce the determined Reds defence that finally killed the movement for victory.

Reds celebrate their victory over the Chiefs.
Reds celebrate their victory over the Chiefs. Photo credit: Getty Images

Their win propels them into third on the competiton table, behind the Chiefs on points difference.

The Chiefs looked dangerous early, when winger Liam Coombes-Fabling dashed down the left, and when the move broke down, they received a penalty that turned into a lineout maul, with lock Naitoa Ah Kuoi driven over.

Forensic inspection revealed a loose ball and accidental offside on the tryline, but from a penalty advantage, the Chiefs went again, with fullback Josh Ioane eventually finding a space to wriggle over, after several phases.  

The Reds struck back, when they also opted for an attacking lineout from a penalty and hooker Mat Faessler plunged over for his fourth try of the season.

They had another chance, when winger Suliasi Vunivalu broke over halfway and opted to kick ahead, with support all around him, but Chiefs winger Shaun Stevenson gathered the bounce and cleared.

Moments later, Vunivalu was clear down the left and found No.8 Harry Wilson in support, with flanker Frazer McReight looming for the try.

McKenzie pulled back three points with a penalty, but the Reds seemed in for their third try, when fullback Jock Campbell put winger Mac Grealy into wide-open space, before Coombes-Fabling scrambled across to cover the threat.

Before halftime, first-five Damian McKenzie slotted another close penalty, after a high tackle on flanker Simon Parker, but the Reds grabbed those points back after the siren, to lead 15-11 at the break.

After the restart, Chiefs flanker Samipeni Finau almost cut Reds first-five Tom Lynagh in half with a late tackle and was somewhat fortunate to stay on the field. Lynagh left the game soon after, visibly shaken.

When Parker charged down Vunivalu's clearing kick, lock Manaaki Selby-Rickit could not quite gather, but the ball spread right to Stevenson, who dived over in the corner for the lead.

Their advantage was short-lived, when replacement first-five Harry McLaughlin-Phillips kicked into the Chiefs 22 and the bounce was kind for Grealy, who put centre Josh Flook across.

Suliasi Vunivalu makes a break against the Reds.
Suliasi Vunivalu makes a break against the Reds. Photo credit: Getty Images

Coombes-Fabling gathered the kickoff and had the Chiefs hot on attack, but lock Tupou Va'ai knocked on, as he reached out to score.

They had other chances - another chargedown that rolled dead, Finau spilling a pass with the line at his mercy - but they never achieved any superiority in set-piece to allow McKenzie to control the game.

Their last chance came from a wobbly defensive scrum inside their own 22, which held up enough for McKenzie to put Coombes-Fabling down the left touchline, then midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown down the right.

Twenty-three phases later, camped on the Reds goal-line, McKenzie was finally wrapped up in a tackle that he could not extricate from and the unbeaten record was gone.

"Credit to the Reds, they played some good footy," acknowledged Chiefs captain Luke Jacobson. "We knew they weren't going to be an easy side at all and they came out and proved that.

"It's not an easy place to play at Suncorp. I think we had our chances in the second half, but we just weren't clinical enough.

"There were a few scrums that we ended up on the backfoot, where we'd like to be attacking off, and a few carries that were too loose with the ball. It's hard to get into phase play, when you lose the ball in a few carries."

The Chiefs must regroup to host Fijian Drua next Saturday, while the Reds visit Melbourne Rebels on Friday.

Queensland Reds 25 (Faessler, McReight & Flook try; Lynagh conversion & penalty, McLaughlin-Phillips penalty & conversion) Chiefs 19 (Ioane & Stevenson try; McKenzie 3 penalties)