James Mortimer 08.Jul.2012Getty Images
They might have the best form of any team in the season at this stage, but even a bonus point win against the Waratahs in front of 30,000 plus at Suncorp Stadium might not be enough to secure their place in the Super Rugby Finals Series.
The Brumbies need just one competition point against the Blues to secure the Australian Conference, and if that occurs then the Reds will need to rely on other results to go their way.
With the Crusaders, Sharks and Bulls currently holding the wildcard positions, the Reds will need those teams to lose to make the knockout stages.
However if the Waratahs can break a two-match losing streak against their greatest local rivals, and win in Brisbane for the fourth time, then the Reds season and championship defence is over.
There has been much to like about the Reds close to the season, with their last defeat being a 15-11 reverse to the Crusaders in Christchurch – a match that was at the time their fifth loss in seven.
Coach Ewen McKenzie said after that match that his troops needed to win every remaining game to be a chance, and so far his men have obliged.
The 19-13 win over the Highlanders was gritty and far removed from the flamboyant play that characterised their championship season in 2011, but there would have been much joy to see playmaker Quade Cooper up to his old tricks.
While Cooper and Will Genia appear to be hitting top form, the Reds will have to manage their injury toll against a Wallaby laden Waratahs side.
Digby Ioane and Liam Gill were missing against the Highlanders, joining injured captain James Horwill in the Reds casualty ward.
Rob Simmons and Beau Robinson are also in doubt after suffering thigh and foot injuries respectively against the Highlanders.
McKenzie was happy that the Reds fulfilled the basic requirement against the men from Otago.
“The main thing in the end is that we at least won the game,” he said.
“You win the game, you keep pressure on, you keep climbing the ladder. You can work out the mathematics and worry about that. But I can guarantee that if you go out there and say we’ll score four tries, it doesn’t happen.”
“If you look at their (the Highlanders) scenario, they went out there to score four tries and they didn’t win. Everyone can be an expert sitting on the sideline. You’ve got to get the four points first. We concentrated on that.”