Rock solid Reds make it three straight in Argentina
DEFENCE was the hallmark by which Brad Thorn built his career on and in his first month as a Super Rugby coach his young Queensland side have shown that they have the same fighting qualities after a hard-fought 18-7 win in Argentina.
The Reds survived a barrage of attacking waves in the second half against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires to record their third straight victory.
In previous years the Jaguares' discipline is what's killed their chances, but it was their ball security and set-piece which wilted under the sustained pressure of the Reds.
It is the first time since 2013 that the Reds have won three straight victories.
Making their early season form even more remarkable is that the Reds' winning run has come despite the early season suspensions of Test forwards Scott Higginbotham and Lukham Tui, injury to George Smith and absentees of Australian backs Quade Cooper and Karmichael Hunt.
The 11 point win sees the Reds move into outright second on the Australian conference on 12 points, three points behind the Melbourne Rebels who travel to Sydney to take on the Waratahs on Sunday afternoon (4pm AEDT).
"I just think overall across the board we defended really well," captain James Slipper said.
"We gave the Jaguares a lot of ball and we tested ourselves a fair bit in defence.
"Our set-piece stood up really well up front and set the platform for our win."
The Reds arrived in Buenos Aires out to snap a horrendous run on the road, which has seen them win just one of their past 17 matches on the road.
But, unlike their domestic rivals the Waratahs who conceded a try after just 16 seconds a week earlier against the Jaguares at the same venue, it was the Reds who scored first points off the boot of halfback James Tuttle.
The Jaguares' return was emphatic, with winger Bautista Delguy on the end of a lovely set-piece move off a scrum to score in the seventh minute.
While the home side led on the scoreboard for much of the first half, it was the Reds with all the possession.
But for all their time with ball-in-hand, the Reds couldn't cut through the Jaguares' defence and two poor passes from playmaker Jono Lance added to the frustration.
A try to Reds hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa from a rolling maul put the Reds in front 8-7 after 29 minutes.
Tuttle's second penalty of the first half extended their lead to four points.
The Jaguares won the kick restart though and they appeared certain to score on a number of occasions, but some desperation in defence and pressure at the lineout saw the Reds hold out.
In similar vein to last week when they scored early in the second half against the Bulls, a try to electric Fijian winger Filipo Daugunu in the 48th minute proved to the decisive moment of the Reds' win against the Jaguares.
Daugunu's try came off a lineout throw on their own 10 metre line, which saw No 8 Caleb Timu hit a hole and link with backs Samu Kerevi and Chris Feauai-Sautia before putting the Fijian away down the right wing.
No 8 Timu was outstanding for the Reds all afternoon and well and truly made up for Higginbotham's absence.
The Jaguares dominated the final 30 minutes of play and had a ton of possession.
Thorn's side were fortunate not to lose a player to the sin bin after a continual flow of penalties against their side.
But the Jaguares only had themselves to blame for not capitalising on their stack of possession, as the Reds kept the home side scoreless in the second half.
Until last week, the Reds hadn't kept a side scoreless in a half since 2015.
Jaguares captain Pablo Matera praised the Reds' defensive work, but questioned Paul Williams' decision to not go to the pocket earlier.
"They brought a really great defence. It was a really physical game and it was really hard to get inside their in goal," Matera said.
"They made a lot of penalties in their 22 and they didn't get the yellow card that I think they deserve.
"But they had a really good defence and it was a fair that they win the game."
The Reds now travel to South Africa to take on the Stormers who returned to winning ways with a 37-20 win over the Blues.
The Reds will welcome back captain Higginbotham after serving a three-week suspension, but face a nervous wait on Test lock Kane Douglas who could come under scrutiny of the SANZAAR citing commissioner after making contact with the head of an opponent with his shoulder during a tackle.
After a number of replays, Douglas escaped with a penalty for the incident with Williams deeming that the forward wrapped his arms around the ball carrier.
"It's going to be a tough game again in Cape Town against the Stormers," Slipper said.
"We've got a lot of travel to go through again.
"But we'll enjoy this win. It's a special one for us. We haven't won away from home for a long time, so to win away on tour, especially in Argentina, we'll enjoy it, but we know we've got a fair bit of work to do."