Horror streak continues for Reds’ 100-Club members
Even 100-Club milestone matches have turned into a hoodoo at the Queensland Reds with warrior Scott Higginbotham just the latest to have his celebration soured by a loss.
The ragged Reds were poor and the hope of a dazzling five or 10-minute period to transform the night at Suncorp Stadium never arrived.
The 34-23 loss was to a virtual Argentinian Test side in the Jaguares but the Reds were good enough to topple them if not for errors and such unimaginative attack.
A late Jock Campbell try closed the scores to 29-23 with just over two minutes left and crowd of 8756 found sudden voice when gamebreaker Samu Kerevi had the ball in his hands again 30m from the tryline.
Sadly, his pass to flyhalf Matt McGahan with a try on was intercepted by Jaguares winger Santiago Carreras who scooted 75m for his second try.
"That's a real heartbreaker and hands up it was my mistake there," skipper Kerevi said.
"We didn't get the result but Higgy can hold his head high for 100 weeks of footy for the Reds."
"He's like a father figure but right now he's more of a grandfather figure.
Teammates turned the stadium into mo-town to honour Higginbotham and his trademark moustache. Kerevi's pencil-slim Clark Gable mo and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto's handlebar were the best nods.
His entry to Queensland rugby's revered 100-game club was still with a loss just as James Slipper (2018), Rob Simmons (2016), Quade Cooper (2014) and James Horwill (2014) had to accept.
It was always a night to celebrate 100 games not just his 100th.
Higginbotham, 32, still got his blood racing in his 80-minute showing.
Twice, he was involved in pushing, wordy confrontations with Jaguares forwards just like the old days.
Higginbotham was in the thick of it almost from the whistle when given a bloody nose by friendly fire at the bottom of a ruck when teammate Angus Blyth scrambled over him with his knees.
An intercept with two unmarked Jaguares outside him was his big play of the first half because it saved a try. In the second half, a good front-on tackle enabled Reds' man-of-the-match Liam Wright to latch onto the ball for a forced penalty
We'd seen the script of the opening 70 minutes plenty of times before from the Reds.
A spilt ball on attack close to the line, pick-and-drive raids without a coherent end game, pedestrian attack and dumb options like passing to popgun kicker Campbell for a clearing kick that turned into a Jaguares try.
Spiced in between, there was lovely footwork from trump Kerevi to bust the line and send centre partner Chris Feauai-Sautia away for a trademark try.
Forwards Salakaia-Loto and Taniela Tupou jolted Jaguares players with massive tackles, young flanker Wright forced two super ruck turnovers to save desperate situations and the effort was non-stop.
Prop Tupou was urgent in his work, new flyhalf McGahan ran a little too cross-field for the liking of most and halfback Tate McDermott's strong game ended early with a limp.
The return of winger Filipo Daugunu from a fractured forearm was a bright spot but too little ball made it just a glimpse of running and a good offload.
The idea from Fox Sports commentator Phil Kearns that the Jaguares were too like a Test team to be in Super Rugby didn't wash with Reds coach Brad Thorn.
"I said to my guys this week 'Good, bring it on...let's have a Test match' because I like my guys mixing it with a strong side like that," Thorn said.
"We weren't quite ready this time but I don't want them to have gone away when we are.
"It's so valuable for young forwards like Harry Hockings and Angus Blyth to get a taste and embrace it."
Thorn said the quality of the Jaguares' turnover skills stalled the Reds several times and the Queenslanders were again their own enemies with frustrating errors mixed in with their non-stop willingness.
Jaguares coach Gonzalo Quesada said three victories on the team's tour of New Zealand and Australia was a huge boost to confidence at the top of the South Africa Conference.
"And we have been able to do it by resting some experienced players and have some younger players perform which is valuable for us," Quesada said.
"It was a little crazy at the end because we went from having a bonus point to possibly losing the game...I'm extremely happy we won with a bonus point (with a try on full-time)."