Reds’ cruel injury blow as top-four hunt intensifies

Murray Wenzel |

Jock Campbell was among the scorers as the Reds beat the Rebels by four points in Brisbane.
Jock Campbell was among the scorers as the Reds beat the Rebels by four points in Brisbane.

Harry Wilson’s surge back into the Wallabies frame has been dealt a major blow after the Queensland Reds star suffered a potentially season-ending broken arm in a gritty four-point Super Rugby victory over Melbourne Rebels.

The Reds scored 21 points in a 10-minute period while the visitors were down a man to win 26-22 at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.

It kept them in fifth and within reach of the top-four finish – and a home final – with three games to play.

But Les Kiss’s side may have to do it without their star No.8, who alongside fellow backrowers Fraser McReight and Liam Wright had created one of Super Rugby Pacific’s greatest weapons.

Harry Wilson injury
Harry Wilson has suffered a potentially season-ending broken arm for the Reds. (Dave Hunt/AAP PHOTOS)

Wilson, overlooked in recent years for Test minutes, came off clutching his forearm midway through the second half and within an hour of fulltime had confirmation of a fracture and likely prospect of surgery.

It’s potentially horrid timing with the Reds eyeing a top-four finish and the Wallabies’ first Test under Joe Schmidt less than two months away as Wilson’s form had placed him firmly in the frame.

“We’ll see what they say. Perhaps it’s surgery,” Kiss said. 

“That’s what a season is. It’s never a straight line. Couple of times we haven’t quite handled it, but each time we’ve bounced back. This is just another chance.”

After a string of close losses this season, the Reds were at least able to celebrate being on the right side of a tight result, defending 14 phases in the final minutes to see out the Rebels’ last-gasp efforts.

“We’re not getting lost in the ladder … but we’ve put a bit of a gap on the others now,” Kiss said.

“Keep winning and the pressure comes on other people and there’s some big games for everyone.”

Blazing tries to Jock Campbell and Tim Ryan – his sixth in three starts – as well as a rolling maul try to McReight had powered the Reds to the lead after they’d trailed 15-5 at the break.

Those 21 points came in the 10 minutes Lachie Anderson was on the sideline, the Rebels winger yellow-carded for offside after the Reds had amped up the pressure to begin the second half.

The Rebels, one spot back in sixth, earned a bonus point that could be crucial in the finals picture ahead of a tough run home against the Chiefs, Brumbies and Drua.

They lost captain Rob Leota (corked shoulder) and Alex Mafi (calf) to injuries before kick-off and prop Taniel Tupou (concussion) joined them inside 10 minutes.

Rebels' Lachie Anderson.
The dismissal of Lachie Anderson (pictured) paved the way to victory for the Reds. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)

Yet they dominated all facets in the first half, as they were strong in contact and more disciplined in defence and at the breakdown.

The Queenslanders scored first when Matt Faessler finished a driving maul but the Rebels’ one-two punch – tries to Andrew Kellaway and Sam Talakai – made it 15-5 at the break.

The Reds briefly hit top gear to surge clear before Anderson returned and a Maciu Nabolakasi try made it a four-point game in the final 10 minutes.

Rebels coach Kevin Foote said Leota should be fine to play next week, while he confirmed Tupou’s concussion would lead to Pone Fa’amausili’s return after he had been loaned to the Waratahs this week.

“In the change room I was just rattling off moments, it was just really awesome,” he said.

“We’ve got a saying, ‘We’ll just keep going, whatever comes, comes’.

“The Chiefs next week; I actually can’t wait.”

AAP