Kerevi out of crucial clash as Reds stare at abyss
THE desolate feeling of a failed bid for the finals has been magnified for Samu Kerevi who will be a helpless spectator for the Queensland Reds' next game.
Skipper Kerevi and coach Brad Thorn had put off the matchwinner's mandated Wallabies' rest week for as long as possible before agreeing on this Round 15 clash.
Missing Friday night against the Chiefs in Hamilton will mess with the Reds even more than expected because centre partner Chris Feauai-Sautia (knee) is limping.
Kerevi has played all put 15 minutes of the Reds' 12 games this season and did everything in his power to ignite his team in Saturday night's crunch interstate game.
His trademark bust through the groping hands of Bernard Foley set up the Reds' opening try and he had the follow-up polish with a perfect flick pass for the Jock Campbell try.
The 40-32 loss was a fantastic 10-try spectacle but that is little salve when losing to NSW for an 11th straight time.
"The game was there for us to take it...I feel like we let the Queensland state down with that loss," a subdued Kerevi said.
"We played some awesome footy but they had the experienced guys to punish our lapses in defence and losing the ball in key moments."
Thorn was equally deflated.
"You play a lot of good footy but there's still that mentality in the back end where you really have to take control of the game."
Thorn's assessment that nothing much has changed in the tight Australian Conference was a little fanciful even though the Brumbies (29 points) are no further away after a bye week.
The Melbourne Rebels (28) and Waratahs (26) have both advanced because the Reds (23) have not been good enough to beat them over the past fortnight.
It's like an Olympic marathon where an all-guts competitor drops off the lead bunch and just can't regain touch with the medal group.
No one would now back the Reds to win their last four games, a feat they last pulled off in 2012, or even Friday in New Zealand where they have lost 12 straight since 2013.
Full credit to the Waratahs for rallying from 22-14 down, after six Reds tries and trailing for 39 minutes in three periods.
"We fight in every game and there were some special moments like that Alex Newsome try (off a Nick Phipps short ball) where a lot of work was put into all the little tasks to get a celebration like that," Waratahs skipper Michael Hooper said.