Double delight for Reds Development XV in Challenger Series opener

Mon, Sep 18, 2023, 2:11 AM
Reds Media Unit
by Reds Media Unit
Lochie Connors (left) and Joanna Rabaka (right) in action during the Queensland Rugby Challenger Series. Images: QRU Media
Lochie Connors (left) and Joanna Rabaka (right) in action during the Queensland Rugby Challenger Series. Images: QRU Media

The Reds Development XV have claimed back-to-back victories in the 2023 Queensland Rugby Challenger Series, winning both the men’s and women’s opening games at Ballymore Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

In the men’s contest, Souths flyhalf Harry McClaughlin-Phillips scored twice for the Reds Development XV, including an innovative run in the first half. Making use of the law innovations approved by World Rugby for the Challenger Series, McClaughlin-Phllips marked inside his own half before taking a quick tap and charging his way up the field.

That effort encapsulated a seesawing first half which saw nine tries scored across both teams. GPS winger and StoreLocal Hospital Cup leading try scorer Veresa Mataitini opened the scoring for the game, running in for the Challenger XV after some crafty passing from Easts pair Pio Nakumbuwai and Jake Pappin.

The two sides traded tries for much of the next 30 minutes with Easts hooker Max Craig touching down in the 11th minute to open the account for the Reds Development XV.

Challenger XV captain Kohan Herbert crossed in the 15th minute before fellow Magpie McClaughlin-Phillips responded two minutes later for his first.

Bond University hooker Moli Sooaemalelagi recaptured the lead for the Challenger XV with back-to-back tries before McClaughlin-Phillips produced his moment of brilliant using the new law variations in the 33rd minute.

Reds Development XV wingers Tim Ryan (Brothers) and Mac Grealy (UQ) combined their turn of pace and quick feet for another try before Bond University flanker Lochie Connors used his speed and muscle to beat out Challenger XV defenders to add another five-pointer on the stroke of on half time to hand the Reds Development XV a seven-point lead at the break leading 33-26.

It didn’t take long for the scoring to resume after half time with Sooaemalelagi scoring shortly after play’s resumption for the Challenger XV.

Reds Development XV fullback Meli Dreu (Easts) responded quickly to extend the lead once again. A faint dummy from Lawson Creighton (Brothers) opened a gap for Dreu to break through who produced a dummy of his own to catch the Challenger XV off-guard for the try.

Sooaemalelagi crossed for his fourth in the 55th minute to bring the lead within four for the Challenger XV however Cooper Whiteside (Wests) was penalised for taking too long on a conversion kick – courtesy of another new law variation being trialled in the Challenger Series, meaning his effort for two-points was unsuccessful.

Grealy’s second in the 60th minute was followed shortly by Spencer Jeans (Bond) that all but ensured the win for the Reds Development XV. A late try to Shaun Anderson (GPS) ensured a 23-point final margin.

Reds Development XV Men: 59

Tries: McClaughlin-Phillips 2, Grealy 2, Craig, Connors, Dreu, Jeans, Anderson.

Conversions: Creighton 7.

Challenger XV Men: 36

Tries: Sooaemalelagi 4, Mataitini, Herbert.

Conversions: Whiteside 3.

A first-half hattrick from Bond University and Wallaroos tighthead prop Eva Karprani paved the way for a dominant Reds Development XV win over the Challenger XV at Ballymore Stadium in the afternoon’s opening fixture.

Karpani was one of nine Wallaroos to feature in the star-studded Reds squad which also saw Queensland’s Super W star Ivania Wong run in for four tries of her own.

It didn’t take long for the Reds Development XV to open the scoring through Karpani, who capitalised on long line breaks from scrumhalf Sarah Lewis (GPS) and centre Renee Nona (Sunnybank) minutes earlier. A quick offload from Michelle Dreu (Easts) set up Karpani, who then used her turn of speed to break through for the game’s first.

Flyhalf Carys Dallinger (Easts) nailed the conversion to hand the Reds Development an early 7-nil lead.

Desperate tackling from the Development XV backline thwarted lock’s Ashlee Knight’s (Wests) attempt to cross the line but couldn’t withstand Karpani, who ran in her second from the ensuing lineout – this time beating two Challenger XV defenders to extend the lead.

The Challenger XV hoped to kickstart their scoring with a lineout in the Reds Development XV half, but an intuitive intercept saw Karpani race away to score her third in the 14th minute.

The speed of the Reds Development XV continued to be a problem as Wong (Sunnybank) and Hanna Lane (GPS) combined to extend the lead out to 24-nil halfway through the first half.

UQ’s Roni Setu broke through to score the first points for the Challenger XV in the 28th minute, capitalising from multiple phases on the goal line before Easts fullback Piper Flynn added a successful conversion.

Fellow Tiger Rosie Ebbage cut the deficit to 12 just before half time, scoring the Challenger XV’s second five-pointer.

A deft kick from Dallinger in the opening moments of the second half set up Georgia Wilson (Souths) for her first of the afternoon.

Wong added her second shortly after, linking with Wests lock Aleena Greenhalgh to break through the Challenger XV defence once again.

The boot of Dallinger again proved its worth in the 51st minute, poking an acute dribble to set up Wong for her hattrick and extend the lead out to 29 points.

A chance to cut inside following a scrum paved the way for Wong to score her fourth under the posts in the 64th minute before Alana Elisaia (Wests) made the most of another well-executed Dallinger cross-field kick for her first of the afternoon.

A Mel Wilks effort in the 74th provided the perfect footnote to a dominate Reds Development XV performance who ran out 62-12 winners.

Reds Development XV Women: 62

Tries: Wong 4, Karpani 3, Elisaia, Wilks.

Conversions: Dallinger 6, Afuie.

Challenger XV Women: 12

Tries: Setu, Ebbage

Conversions: Flynn