McKenzie praises Reds 'character'
McKenzie praises Reds 'character'SHARE
The Queensland Reds withstood relentless pressure from the Hurricanes in the final quarter of their Super Rugby match to record a gritty 18-12 victory on Friday.
For the second consecutive week the Reds defence stepped up in the crucial stages of the match as they repelled a fast-finishing Wellington team that sent wave after wave of attack at Queensland's line during the last 20 minutes.
The Reds outscored their opponents two tries to none and in the process recorded their first victory over the Hurricanes since 2007 while also extended their strong record at Suncorp Stadium to 23 wins from their past 26 matches.
It was a drought-breaking match for the Reds – with lock Rob Simmons scoring his first-ever Super Rugby try in his 51st appearance and wing Digby Ioane ending a tryless streak at home which stretched back to the 2011 Super Rugby Final.
Reds Director of Coaching Ewen McKenzie credited his team's character to withhold the late charge from the Hurricanes and win their second straight Super Rugby match.
"In the end we showed a lot of character and got the result," McKenzie said.
"It's only our second win against the Hurricanes in 11 games," the coach added.
"The plan was to starve them of opportunity and starve them of the things they were good at, which worked really well for half the game.
"Only once in the first half did they get within 30-metres of our goal line.
"Second half they got down there and put pressure on.
"The one thing we didn't want to do is kick them loose ball, we needed to kick the ball into the grandstand or hold onto it.
"We gave them a lot of opportunities to run back at us and therefore we had to defend for long periods of time.
"But it was really good character, grit and determination and a good effort from the guys.
"I'll look at the video and know that our character and attitude will take us places this season. You can't coach that bit, it's just guys wanting to do it for each other. We needed that."
Captain James Slipper again led a strong Reds set-piece with a tighthead scrum in the 47th minute laying the platform for Simmons five-pointer in the second half while flyhalf Quade Cooper flashed moments of brilliance in igniting Queensland's attack.
Liam Gill was a standout contributor as he combined with fellow back row forwards and good friends Jake Schatz and Eddie Quirk to produce another tireless performance at the breakdown.
"I think Liam is an outstanding player, he is in the game in so many different ways," McKenzie said.
"He has lots of skills and makes contributions, including winning line-outs for us. He attacks, defends and is a very slippery player carrying the ball. He is doing exactly what we expect him to do."
The Reds will now turn their attention to next Friday's Round Four Super Rugby clash against the Rebels in Melbourne before returning to their fortress on Saturday, March 16 against the Western Force.
"We've been to Melbourne twice now and they make it very difficult every time you play there," McKenzie said.
"In the early years their crowds were really happy just for the competitiveness of their team and cheered them to the death. If they get points and tries the crowd comes into the game.
"Tactically, the Rebels will be a challenge and we've had a look at them already. They will be difficult and it will be another physical game. They always are."