Stormers and Springbok captain Siyamthanda Kolisi put his hand up and accepted ‘blame’ for his team’s third straight loss on their tour of Australasia.
Both sides did everything but get on the scoreboard at Suncorp Stadium this past Friday – in the competition’s first scoreless opening stanza in six years.
But Kolisi’s sin-binning on the stroke of half-time broke the shackles, with the Reds prevailing in a five-try second half.
Kolisi’s 10 minutes off the field was decisive, with the Reds getting two touchdowns in his absence on their way to a 24-12 win.
The Stormers’ pain was made worse by three disallowed tries.
Kolisi admitted his yellow card was a deciding factor.
“We started well and created a lot of opportunities but obviously the yellow card made a huge difference,” he said.
“That was the turning point.”
The Stormers, who rested Springboks forwards Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit, had the early momentum and Damian Willemse thought he had the first points when he got under a box kick, only to dot down on the dead ball line.
There was more agony minutes later when wing Sergeal Petersen dived over for a try, only for replays to show he stepped out of play just before grounding the ball.
There were few other opportunities before Kolisi was penalised for holding on at the breakdown seconds before half-time.
With an extra man at the restart, Kerevi and Brandon Paenga-Amosa scored tries and Bryce Hegarty booted the conversions.
When Kolisi returned, the Stormers pulled one back through Kobus van Dyk, only for Reds scrumhalf Tate McDermott to catch them napping soon after, taking a quick penalty and darting over.
Damian De Allende got a late consolation for the Stormers but another disallowed try, from Kolisi, summed up their match.
They have now lost the first three of their four-match Australasian tour, with the Melbourne Rebels up next.
Both teams in Brisbane were coming off defeats after the Reds were thumped by the Rebels last weekend and the Stormers crashed to the Blues in Auckland.
“I spoke about starting well [in the second half], we didn’t do that last week and it was something we wanted to do,” said Reds captain Samu Kerevi.
“I’m really proud of the boys.”
Coach Brad Thorn was proud of his side but was again left asking them to find the middle ground between expansive and safe rugby.
“Lots of positive rugby out there, lots of endeavour and there’s a part of me that loves that,” Thorn said.
“There’s a composure around that … often our biggest challenge is just us.”
Stormers coach Robbie Fleck rued his side’s wastefulness.
“It’s pretty tough to swallow that and those first 10 minutes [in the second half, with Kolisi sin-binned], the Reds were pretty good at executing that advantage,” Fleck said.
“We’re not really proud of that effort in the second half – too many errors, too many missed tackles.”