Fading Reds need finishing touches

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Reds will only accept a win against the Cheetahs but co-coach Nick Stiles says it can only come from a complete performance.

Queensland arrived back from its two-week South African tour this week, coming off two losses to the Stormers and the Bulls.

Their African clashes threw up almost identical scripts, with the Reds competitive or leading until the final quarter of the match before being blown away for 19 and 20-point losses.

Stiles said a three-quarter game would not be acceptable against the Cheetahs.

“We were shattered with those last 15-20 minutes on both games against the Bulls and the Stormers,” he said.

“We’re playing two of the strongest South African teams you can play, away from home in very hostile territory.

“You get to the 60, 65 minute mark and you’re well in the game but the inability to finish off with those last 10-15 is something we were very unhappy with."

The Queensland bench struggled against the Stormers, especially, who were able to lean on the experience of players like Schalk Burger coming off the pine.

That’s an area Stiles said would have to be cleaned up on Saturday night.

“( Wallabies coach Michael) Cheika last year was talking about the finishers and the roles they have to play and I know in my group last weekend our bench was disappointed with their performances when they came on,” he said.

“At times in that last crucial 10 minutes we felt those guys had a lack of effort in periods.

“We’ve reviewed that very critically and expect a much better performance this weekend.”

The co-coach, who mentors the forwards mainly, said the Cheetahs wouldn’t be an easy proposition, though they have been relative strugglers through their Super Rugby history.

“If you're a Queensland rugby fan you might be expecting an easier win for the weekend,” he said.

“If you're a genuine really diehard fan you’d know what a dangerous side they are, two weeks ago they put nearly 100 points on the Sunwolves, who then last week were able to beat basically Argentina B.

“The lightning speed they've got in their backs is something if you turn the ball over too much they will punish you (with).”

Curtis Browning has improved with increased pressure on back row spots. Photo: Getty ImagesThe Reds have named an unchanged side for their clash against the Cheetahs, a luxury that they have rarely had in the past two injury-plagued seasons.

Their overall fitness and the recent addition of former Broncos forward Caleb Timu have boosted competition among the side and Stiles said that’s exactly what they need, pointing to Curtis Browning’s as a symptom of that.

Browning stepped into the shoes of injured backrower Jake Schatz against the Stormers in one of the better performances of his career to retain his starting point..

“Anyone who’s been around the Brisbane rugby scene knows there’s been a lot of talk and hope about Curtis Browning from when he was young schoolboy at State High” he said.

“To see him finally put together a performance like that was encouraging for us.

“With Schatzy being injured he had an opportunity through performance to nail down that eight position and be able to show us what he can do week in week out.

“We don't want one-out good performances we want consistency we want players that are hungry to be the best and Curtis Browning is definitely a very good kid.”