Improving their relations with referees is a major focus for a Queensland side paying the price for being the most penalised side in Super Rugby.
The Reds are conceding 14.5 penalties per game, mostly at the breakdown, and can’t afford to continue the ill-disciplined trend against the Lions at Johannesburg’s Ellis Park on Sunday morning (AEDT).
Young Lions sharpshooter Marnitz Boshoff is the leading pointscorer in the competition and has led his underdog side to fourth place on the standings despite them scoring just 1.6 tries per match.
Queensland were undone by the referee Lourens van der Merwe’s whistle in their 35-20 loss to the Sharks in Durban, pinged 15 to 10.
The Sharks built up a match-winning 25-6 lead before halftime with goalkickers Pat Lambie and Frans Steyn slotting three-pointers from six of the first seven penalties the Reds conceded.
Queensland’s coaching box fumed with each one which went against them at the ruck, but they know they can’t allow five-eighth Boshoff shots at goal, even beyond half-way.
“Obviously he (Boshoff) is a threat,” said the Reds’ own radar-boot, Mike Harris. “If we are going to be as ill-disciplined as we were on the weekend, we’re going to be punished from anywhere from 60m out.
“We have to be really disciplined and get on side with the referee.”
Skipper James Horwill had little influence on van der Merwe at Kings Park where the Sharks continued the Jake White tactic of pushing the boundaries at the breakdown within the opposing half.
The Brumbies, under White, were one of the most penalised sides last season but have so far been more disciplined under Laurie Fisher and Stephen Larkham, averaging 11.7 penalties per game.
The White-coached Sharks (13.2) are the second most penalised this year while the Waratahs (12.6) are third, just ahead of the defending champion Chiefs (12.5).
Failing to release the ball at the ruck has been the Reds’ biggest sin, and they must quickly get attuned to the interpretations of another South African referee, Stuart Berry, at Ellis Park.
Attack coach Steve Meehan said it was up to them to deny three-point chances by playing well into the opponent’s half and maintaining their discipline.
“We can take both matters into our own hands,” Meehan said.