Reds out to discover ruthless edge on road

Super Rugby
by Emma Greenwood

Young gun Isaac Lucas says the Reds are realising they need to play with ruthless consistency if they are to turn around their Super Rugby fortunes this season.

Queensland faces a massive challenge over the next fortnight, backing up from their opening loss in Canberra - and the loss of hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa - at altitude in Johannesburg against the Lions this week before heading to Argentina to take on the Jaguares.

"Obviously with Canberra last week, South Africa this week and then Argentina next week, that's three countries in three weeks, so it is pretty tough but it's a challenge that we're all liking and excited for," Lucas said.

The Reds were handed a lesson by the Australian conference Brumbies in Canberra on Friday, with the home side rebounding from a 10-point halftime deficit to notch a 27-24 victory after playing at a higher level with greater consistency in the second term.

"The start was very challenging, they threw a lot at us and I thought the way we rebounded to get through that initial 10 minutes and then come away with the halftime lead (was encouraging)," Lucas said.

"But we can't rest on our laurels in that second half. We let them get away with a bit too much but we're looking forward to this week.

"We've just got to keep the foot on the throttle. In Super Rugby, you can't let go and you saw that in the second half - we had a rough period in the second half and they got 14 points.

"Just little things like that are massive learning things for me."

Reds coach Brad Thorn would be pleased to hear such musings from his flyhalf given his own assessment of the game.

"What I saw out there was things I like seeing - I like seeing the continuity, keeping the ball alive and the support; I like seeing them initially rattled a bit and then composure and consolidating," Thorn said.

"I like seeing some of the ball movement, the shapes, some of the execution.

"But probably that thing around those close games is just that ruthlessness. There's a ruthlessness in professional sport around once you've got a lead - that saying foot on the throat - and just playing that solid rugby that builds pressure.

 

"Sometimes when things are going well it can be tempting to try all sorts of things but just building the pressure (is the key).

"It's something we can learn from."

With it's ruthless consistency or consistent ruthlessness, the Reds need to find a bit of mongrel ahead of their clash with the Lions.

After a 38-8 loss in Argentina, the Lions will be hungry at home and Lucas will need to be on song at altitude on Saturday - in his first experience playing in the thin air.

In just his second start in the no.10 jersey, Lucas looked harried at times against the Brumbies but when the Reds pack dominated - as they did in the back end of the first half - he chimed into some nicely timed backline moves.

"He had his good moments, he had moments where maybe he was a bit indecisive," Thorn said of Lucas.

"He's a young man with a lot of ability and talent. He's been working away at the 10 position in the NRC and the pre-season and he'll take some learnings from (the Brumbies game).

"There was some good stuff there and I'm pleased to have him out there."

After playing in searing heat on Friday night and travelling to South Africa on Saturday, recovery was the key for the Reds on arrival in Johannesburg.

But captain Liam Wright believed his men could back up and would trust their fitness - as they had on Friday night against the Brumbies.

"The boys will be tired as you are after any Super Rugby game, it's tough out there," Wright said.

"The Brumbies really gave us a good showing but we trust our fitness.

"That was the plan in the first and the second half, we had to go out there and withstand what they were going to throw at us in the first 15-20 minutes and we backed our fitness to get us through in the back ends of the halves.

"The first half went exactly to plan, the second half not so much but it kept us in there at the back end where we got that try when we needed it and we had the ball there in the 80th minute to do something with it, we just didn't execute."