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The St.George Queensland Reds fell just shy of a fairytale final appearance, going down 22-10 against the Blues in their Brisbane Global Rugby Tens semi-final.
Queensland had earlier taken the scalp of the Chiefs in the qualifying final but ultimately it took a more clinical Blues side to put down the Reds surge at Suncorp Stadium.
The home side fought back from behind to give themselves a chance, before the Blues capitalize by forcing Reds errors at their own end.
“We didn’t hold the ball too well,” said centre Samu Kerevi.
In Tens you’ve got to hold onto it and in defence work your rings off.”
“The boys worked really hard to get in the right space, but the Blues put on a clinic.”
A 60m intercept try to Jayden Ngamanu and a pick-and-go try to Andrew Ready were the highlights of the Reds’semi-final.
“I told Ngamanu to go hard. He’s got some exceptional feet and reads the ball really well,” Kerevi said.
“When he went through I didn’t know if he had the gas to get there but his little legs got him there.”
After losing their first two games of the tournament, the Reds got their act together on Day 2.
Forwards Angus Blyth, Reece Hewat, Angus Scott-Young and Harry Hoopert caught their teammates attention with powerful performances at the pointy end of the tournament.
“I remember they came in through the under-20s and were really shy but they’re taking on their own little leadership role,” Kerevi said.
“Not necessarily the leadership group but they’re pushing guys like Lukhan (Tui) and Kane Douglas.
“That’s what you want. You want depth in the squad to push each other so we can get better.”
All the Reds’ coaching staff asked for was a team that worked hard for each other and fought for every moment of every game.
Over the weekend he saw that as the team grew with confidence after a shaky start.
Izaia Perese ran straight, hard and took it personally to make ground with every involvement.
Taniela Tupou was heavily involved and showcased his array of offloading skills.
Hewat was combative and young lock Blyth embodied the sort of commitment Thorn wants when he shunted three Chiefs defenders backwards over the line for the first of his two qualifying final tries.
“I was in the right place at the right time, but happy to get over the line,” Blyth said.
“We’re learning more and more, getting faster and more physical every game. I’m really happy to be here (in this environment) learning and improving.”
16 FEBRUARY 2018