Graham praises 'outstanding' Reds defence
February 23, 2014
Queensland's defence was the backbone of their defeat of the Brumbies © Getty Images
The razzle-dazzle theatrics of Quade Cooper and co may thrill the fans, but it was the Queensland Reds' dogged defence that was truly outstanding in their win over the Brumbies, says coach Richard Graham.
Reds supporters saw the best of both worlds during Saturday night's 27-17 victory over conference rivals the Brumbies in their Super Rugby season opener in Canberra. Cooper was sublime, throwing two long cut passes that set up the tries of Lachlan Turner and Aidan Toua, while also kicking 12 points. But while Cooper's magic is destined to dominate the highlight reels, it only played a small part in the Reds' against-the-odds victory.
Reduced to 14 men midway through second half, the Brumbies were time and time again desperately denied by the Reds - who twice held the Brumbies up over the tryline.
"There's a group of attacking players within the team that can do some special things," said Graham. "But it's about the collective effort, and everyone who was involved tonight defensively, they were outstanding."
The Reds conceded the second least amount of tries (23) in Super Rugby in 2013. And their modus operandi hasn't changed in 2014 as far as Graham is concerned.
"That's something that we've talked about and worked really hard on during pre-season," he said. "It says a lot about their character. Character is a foundation from which you can build things. And you see the rewards of that tonight."
Captain James Horwill said the team had developed a strong desire to dig in for one another over their years together.
"That's something you can't coach - it comes from the group," Horwill said. "It's a pleasing thing that we got the reward tonight from digging in."
The Reds now turn their attention to next Saturday's match against their age-old rivals, the New South Wales Waratahs. Their defence will be tested against a backline boasting attacking threats Israel Folau, Kurtley Beale and Bernard Foley.
"That's another huge game for us, big interstate rival, and a lot of history between Queensland and NSW," Horwill said.