Bumbling bench has Stiles steaming after Reds loss
RUGBY UNION: Reds coach Nick Stiles has savaged his misfiring reserves after the champion Hurricanes inflicted the fifth straight loss on the Queenslanders at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
In an entertaining Super Rugby clash, the Reds played with admirable attacking endeavour but were ultimately outclassed by the Hurricanes in a 34-15 defeat.
The loss leaves the Reds third in the lacklustre Australian conference with a 1-5 record and Stiles had no problem allocating blame after watching his "finishers" fail to add the desired punch as the Hurricanes ran in the only three tries of the second half.
"I couldn't be more disappointed with the performance of the bench," Stiles said.
"It takes 23 guys in modern-day rugby to win football games, it's not just about your starting XV, it's about 23.
"Going into this game with a couple of the minor changes that we made, I thought our bench would be a really good contributor for us.
"But I was just really disappointed with their performance when they came on - and I told them that in the changing rooms.
"Andrew Ready knocked on, Nick Frisby played poorly.
"Those guys come on fresh, they've got to come on and contribute and it wasn't good enough."
Asked what the ramifications would be, Stiles simply stated: "you make changes".
Halfback Frisby's spluttering season was summed up when he booted the ball into the back of lock Kane Douglas while substitute forwards Hendrik and Lukhan Tui joined Ready as dropped-ball culprits.
Ready and the two Tui's are all fine players but Frisby, signed till 2019, is a curious case.
An impressive 2016 Reds campaign saw him win his first four Wallabies caps but he has gone completely off the ball in Stiles' first season at the helm.
James Tuttle has won the starting job but is no world-beater and Will Genia looms large as the Paris-based Test star signals a desire to return home to Super Rugby.
Reds captain Stephen Moore - who made way for hooker Ready in the second half - was left to reflect on another rugby lesson at the hands of the dominant New Zealanders.
The Reds' fitness levels must also be questioned.
"They're a good team for a reason, because they play that 80 minutes," Moore said.
"We made some mentally tired decisions in the final minutes when the Kiwi sides are so good at playing the full 80.
"That's why they're so good isn't it? They play the full 80 minutes and that's a big learning for us.
"Stilesy spoke about the guys that come on the field, need to have a big impact on the game, particularly after the two weeks that we've had away."
Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd paid credit to the Reds' resistance, saying his players were the most exhausted they'd been post-game in his two-and-a-bit years at the helm.
Star loose forward Ardie Savea strained a calf muscle and is rated unlikely for Friday's date with the Waratahs in Wellington, leaving Reed Prinsep as the probable replacement at No 8.
Lock Sam Lousi was also considered long odds for the round seven match but on the positive side of the ledger Boyd said captain Dane Coles, winger Cory Jane and lock/loose forward Vaea Fifita were all expected to be available for selection again.
The Reds play the rested Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday.