Reds alert for Chiefs’ kicking prowess in Super finals

The Queensland Reds have dominated the Chiefs in scoring attempts in recent years, however New Zealand The team has a powerful weapon up its sleeve heading into the Super Rugby Pacific quarter-final clash in Hamilton.

The Reds scored three tries to the Chiefs’ two when the two teams faced off at the same stage last year, but failed to do so due to Damian McKenzie’s five goals from the All Blacks’ penalty shootout.

McKenzie’s opposite number, Tate McDermott, knows his team will have to be on their best behavior to avoid being punished by the 29-year-old’s ability to find the mark from distance.

“As we saw last year, finals aren’t necessarily won by the tries you score,” McDermott said ahead of Friday night’s sudden-death match.

Tate McDermott.Tate McDermott.

Tate McDermott believes the Reds are capable of winning the finals in New Zealand. (Darren England/AAP Images)

“Especially against a world-class striker in D-Mac, your discipline from anywhere – 40 meters away – has to be sound.”

McKenzie’s kicks were on display when he kicked three penalties in his side’s 29-20 loss to the Reds in Brisbane earlier this season.

The Queensland side have scored more tries than the Chiefs in each of their past three matches and have won three of their past five matches against the Kiwis since 2021.

The history remains stacked against the Reds, with no Australian team having won a final in New Zealand in the history of the competition. That’s 15 fruitless trips across the ditch over 28 years.

But McDermott feels he is part of a changed team after one season under new coach Les Case, and is in a better position against the Chiefs than they were a year ago.

“We made it to the finals last year, while we had a good year this year,” he said.

“We played good football that we can be proud of, and hopefully our fans will be proud of, which is something I think could really surprise a couple of teams.”

The Reds boast an 8-6 record in 2024, including three wins over rival New Zealand, exemplified by an impressive 33-28 win over the Crusaders in Christchurch.

“You have to respect your opposition 100 percent, but we also have to look at what has been accomplished this year,” McDermott said.

“I wasn’t part of the Crusaders’ victory, but it was a big change in mentality from where we were as a team.”

Friday’s match will have special resonance for Luke Cerro Oro, who is making his 50th appearance in Super Rugby.

McDermott believes the senior back-rower has done enough to secure selection for the Wallabies after an outstanding season in which he scored four tries and consistently demonstrated his strong running.

“He’s got offloading ability, he’s got the ability to break the line, he’s got speed and he’s worked really hard and improved his defensive abilities as well,” he said.

“The last two years, he’s been unbelievable for us.

“The way he bowled and the way his set-pieces were fantastic and I can’t wait to see Ciro there tomorrow night.”

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