Allora prop shines off the bench
Daily News sports reporter GERARD WALSH describes the scene in Suncorp Stadium for the Queensland Reds 20-13 victory against the Brumbies on Friday night.
I HAD to wait 55 minutes to see Allora forward Greg Holmes run on to the field for the Queensland Reds in a rugby union victory against ACT Brumbies on Friday night at Suncorp Stadium.
It was only by chance I had a red shirt in Brisbane to look the part in a crowd. I was there for the first time since the flood, and was surprised when the crowd came up in excess of 30,000 - the stands didn't look that full.
For the first time in 40 years of watching sport in Brisbane, I didn't spot anyone in the crowd I knew except the guy with No.17, Greg Holmes.
Last season, Greg was in the starting side for the grand-final victory against the Crusaders but has been on the bench this season.
I watched him warm up before the game and then three times during the game right below where we were sitting. Finally the call came, with about 25 minutes to go, for Greg to replace Ben Daley.
You could see the advantage of fresh legs off the Reds bench as the Queenslanders withstood a Brumbies fight back from a 14-0 deficit at half-time.
Greg made one strong break in the final 10 minutes as the Reds kept the ball at the right end of the field as they held on by four points.
He will turn 30 in a year or so, which is not old in the life of a prop, but one has to pay tribute to the resilience of the player who grew up on a farm east of Allora and first shone in sport as a throwing star in athletics.
In the past couple of years when he has struggled to be in the Reds starting 15, he could easily have headed off to another Australian franchise.
But he loves playing for the Reds and has a mortgage on a spot in the 22. In the modern game, players off the bench are almost as important as the starting side.
A quick look at the program showed me Reds wins against the ACT were as scarce as hen's teeth.
This was a win to savour and one which kept the Reds in the hunt for another title. My sporting highlights are always about the locals, such as Greg, but it was impressive to see fifth-choice flyhalf Sam Lane play well in the Reds win.
He set up one try and after two bad misses, then kicked four from four.
They didn't even have his photo for the program and one hopes his efforts are rewarded with more top rugby in the future.
At the end of the game, Reds pair, two-try hero Scott Higginbotham and Dom Shipperley, came down to our corner of the field and jumped the fence to meet the crowd.
Not sure if security would have been happy with them being in the crowd but it sure ticks a lot of boxes with the fans.
One of our sons, Arnel, went with me to the rugby. He wasn't worried about an autograph, he was happier to have the Reds (toy) hand we bought at the gate.