Reds alert for Chiefs’ kicking prowess in Super finals

Jacob Shteyman |

Damian McKenzie’s kicking ability is a potent weapon for New Zealand side the Chiefs.
Damian McKenzie’s kicking ability is a potent weapon for New Zealand side the Chiefs.

The Queensland Reds have dominated the Chiefs in the try-scoring stakes in recent years, but the New Zealand outfit has a potent weapon up their sleeve for their Super Rugby Pacific quarter-final clash in Hamilton.

The Reds scored three tries to the Chiefs’ two when the two sides faced off at the same stage last year, but still fell short because of All Blacks five-eighth Damian McKenzie’s five penalty goals.

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

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

Tate McDermott.
Tate McDermott believes the Reds can break through for a finals win in New Zealand. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

“Particularly up against a world-class goal-kicker in D-Mac, your discipline from anywhere – 40 metres out – it’s got to be intact.”

McKenzie’s kicking was on show as he slotted three penalties in his side’s 29-20 loss to the Reds in Brisbane earlier this season.

The Queenslanders have scored more tries than the Chiefs in each of their past three matches and have won three of their past five against the New Zealanders since 2021.

History is still stacked against the Reds though, with no Australian side having won a finals game in New Zealand in the competition’s history. That’s 15 fruitless trips across the ditch over 28 years.

But McDermott feels part of a changed side after a season under new coach Les Kiss, and better placed against the Chiefs compared with where they were a year ago.

“We limped into the finals last year, whereas this year we’ve had a decent year,” he said.

“We played a good brand of footy which we can be proud of, which hopefully our supporters can be proud of, and it’s something I think can really surprise a couple of teams.”

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

“You’ve got to respect your opposition 100 per cent, but we’ve also got to look at what’s been done this year,” McDermott said.

“I wasn’t a part of that Crusaders victory, but that was a huge mindset change from where we have been as a team.”

Friday’s game will have particular resonance for lock Seru Uru, who makes his 50th appearance in Super Rugby.

McDermott reckons the big back-rower has done enough to warrant Wallabies selection after a stand-out season in which he scored four tries and consistently showcased his powerful running.

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

“In the last couple of years, he’s been unbelievable for us.

“The way he’s grafted away, the way that his set-piece has been is phenomenal and I can’t wait to see Seru out there tomorrow night.”