Article

Reds take positives from defeat

16 February 2013 17:05

Reds captain James Slipper says the 24-6 loss to the Brumbies in their Super Rugby opener was typical of the battles between the rival sides.

Neither team was shy to let their opposite numbers know they were around with several flashpoints during the first half.

But that was nothing unexpected for the combative Australian international prop forward.

"You've got to expect that playing down here in Canberra," Slipper said. "They are a tough team at home and there was a lot of aggression out there. Both teams wanted to start the year on a win and there was a bit of push and shove but that's all part of the game.

"There's always been a rivalry here. The Aussie derbies are more of a grinding game and no-one likes losing to another province so there will always be that fresh rivalry. I guess it is growing. It's the first time that the Brumbies have beaten us in four games so it's good to have these battles."

While the defeat wasn't the ideal start for the 2012 Australian Conference champions, director of coaching Ewen McKenzie was able to draw some positives from the performance.

"There were aspects of the defence that we were really pleased with, it has certainly come along and it's always an indicator of where you are," McKenzie said.

"In the end they were able to generate enough pressure and once you start playing catch up you start pushing things and you could see by the intercept at the end there that we were chasing the game and that's never a good situation.

"At 8-6 it was anyone's game at that point. But in the end there were little moments that enabled them to get in front and then we had to chase, but that happens."

The Brumbies' physicality at the breakdown and their ability to turn over ball was crucial to the outcome of a match which was in the balance right until the death.

Poor kicking from both sides saw them miss a combined eight shots at goal, the Reds' Mike Harris finishing with a two goals from five attempts.

"They (the Brumbies) put a lot of pressure on at the breakdowns and play the field positions well," McKenzie said.

"They missed some shots at goal, and so did we, but they were able to get closer than we were and that made the difference. We spent time preparing for a physical match. The thrust and parry of the breakdown was there. The impact of the laws came into play as well and we conceded a few too many penalties so there's a bit there to digest."

The Reds can expect another physical test next week when they meet the Waratahs at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

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