The Reds will remain in Christchurch for the week as they prepare for another clash with the Crusaders.
The Queensland Reds must find a way to win in Christchurch for the first time in 23 years if they are to extend their season beyond the first week of the Super Rugby Pacific finals.
Queensland’s Christchurch drought continued on Friday night with a 28-15 loss to the Crusaders.
Despite their sixth loss of the season – five against New Zealand opposition – the Reds will play finals football, courtesy of their seventh-placed finish.
However, to advance beyond the quarter-finals, they will need to reverse their latest result, with the second-placed Crusaders being Queensland’s first-up opponent in the top-eight finals series.
The Reds fought hard on Friday night, particularly in the second half when they outscored their opponents two tries to one, but an ordinary first-half display proved too much to overcome.
“It all happens again next week,” Reds coach Brad Thorn said.
“If we can get some reasonable ball, we showed that we can apply some pressure.
“The Crusaders are a very good side, and they’ll be another tough proposition but we’ve got everything to play for … it’s a new competition.”
Rather than fly home on Saturday and have to return to New Zealand before the rematch, the Reds will remain in Christchurch to prepare for their quarter-final.
“There’ll probably be a good little camp vibe,” Thorn said.
The Queenslanders had spoken all week of producing a better defensive display after a shoddy tackling effort in their 34-22 last-start win over cellar dwellers Moana Pasifika.
However, they again weren’t good enough in conceding three first-half tries to trail 21-3 at the break.
Crusaders flyhalf Fergus Burke got on the outside of Reds prop Feao Fotuaika before running away to score the game’s opening try in the 11th minute.
The hosts continued to attack and were rewarded with another try four minutes later through fullback Will Jordan.
The Reds then held out until three minutes before half-time when hooker Brodie McAlister crashed over the top of Queensland halfback Tate McDermott to score his team’s third try.
Crusaders flanker Pablo Matera was lucky to not be sent off for a dangerous throw on Reds centre Jordan Petaia in the 55th minute.
However, Matera was sin-binned, with the Reds capitalising during the 10 minutes Crusaders were down a man with a try from replacement hooker Richie Asiata.
Reds No.8 Harry Wilson also scored a second-half try for a Queensland side that can at least tae an encouraging 40 minutes into next week’s rematch.