Reds bank on defence in 2017
REACTION: The Reds will bank on defence as they head into Super Rugby 2017, after it stood them in good stead in their final pre-season outing.
The Reds scored a 32-13 (four tries to one) win over the Melbourne Rebels at Ballymore Stadium on Tuesday, 10 days out from their first Super Rugby match.
The match also marked the first appearance of key players like Stephen Moore, Quade Cooper and Scott Higginbotham - before the Reds open the Super Rugby season against the Sharks in Brisbane next Friday, February 24.
And it was defence that was the key, according to coach Nick Stiles.
"I haven't seen a Reds side defend like that for years," Stiles said.
"I was really pleased with the repeat efforts and the fact we were imposing ourselves physically.
"That was the most pleasing thing for me.
"It was a trial, but we didn't treat it like it was a practice match. The guys have been training so hard and they had a genuine desire to come out here, play well and earn a win in front of our fans.
"It's a good start, but the real deal gets underway next week when we take on the Sharks at our home ground."
* Meanwhile Rebels coach Tony McGahan said they got value out of the match, despite the loss.
"It was a great last trial for both sides," McGahan said.
"I thought they were really hard at the ball for the first 50-60 minutes of the game,” he added.
"The Reds obviously dominated the set piece, in particular around the scrum, which made it really difficult for us to have any attacking weapons or momentum in the second half.
"I think both sides got a lot out of it, no injuries and we march on to Round One.
"Any time you lose and get dominated in any particular area is a concern, but we'll go back and get that fixed and come out ready to go.
"It was a positive to get some more combinations, we had a lot of young blokes there at the end who got some good lessons and Super Rugby experience."