Scrum strong but Reds trying to keep lid on hype
You won't get scrum wrecker Taniela Tupou hyping up Queensland's Super Rugby hopes because he insists talk is cheap and this season is all about action from the Reds.
The Reds lost their second trial 21-19 to the Chiefs on Friday night at Ballymore yet the resounding positive was how dominant the Reds scrum was in splintering the Kiwi pack.
Coach Brad Thorn's team may have work to do on attack and being calm enough to clinically accumulate points from dominant periods but the scrum is in synch again as a weapon.
The Highlanders will already be wondering how to handle Tupou and his pack when the Reds head to Dunedin for their Super Rugby opener on Saturday week.
"Playing the Chiefs was perfect for us because their defensive pressure really came hard at us off the line in that first 30 minutes and it prepared us to face another Kiwi team in a few weeks," Tupou said.
The Reds scrum was the best in Australia last season, conceded the fewest penalties of all scrums in Super Rugby and mangled opponents like the Brumbies and the Blues when eight scrum penalties were earned.
"The boys in the scrum made it one of the best in Super Rugby last year but we are not about talking it up for this season," Tupou said.
"We want our actions to speak on the field.
"That was a good start (against the Chiefs)."
The 11-Test prop played about half a game and enjoyed his first hit-out of World Cup year as he strives to get back to top match fitness.
"I needed a good break because last year was a big one and I spent a good amount of time with family in Tonga," Tupou said.
"I have a few kilos still to take off but it's good to get started with the Reds boys again."
Tupou has 2kg to shed to get down to his 132kg playing weight.
Regular hooking henchman Brandon Paenga-Amosa was a key factor against the Chiefs while the most positive aspect was rookie loosehead Feao Fotuaika joining the shunting party in his second trial.
Skipper Samu Kerevi was upbeat that the Reds had "a good connection in defence to hold them out" when the Chiefs attacked.
Thorn was less impressed that the three tries they did give up were "easy ones" when excellent Chiefs' kick-aheads might have been covered better.
The Reds need to realign far quicker for kick-return chances. When Tate McDermott and Hamish Stewart had the perfect opportunity to launch a raid in space off a Chiefs' kick at the 54-minute mark, they looked outside and there was no attacking line to link with. Chance blown.
The Reds will slot in several intense contact training sessions to be ready for Dunedin to make up for next weekend's ill-timed first round bye.