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McKenzie praises Reds character after 'Canes win

Reds coach Ewen McKenzie talks to his players

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Article Published: Friday 1 March 2013|

Reds Director of Coaching Ewen McKenzie has credited his team's character after they held off a late charge from the Hurricanes to win their second Super Rugby match this season.

The 18-12 result keeps them provisionally in the top six with matches still to come this weekend.

"In the end we showed a lot of character and got the result. It's only our second win against the Hurricanes in 11 games," McKenzie said.

"The plan was to starve them of opportunity and starve them of the things they were good at, which worked really well for half the game."

"Only once in the first half did they get within 30-metres of our goal line.

"Second half they got down there and put pressure on. The one thing we didn't want to do is kick them loose ball, we needed to kick the ball into the grandstand or hold onto it. We gave them a lot of opportunities to run back at us and therefore we had to defend for long periods of time.

"But it was really good character, grit and determination and a good effort from the guys. I'll look at the video and know that our character and attitude will take us places this season. "

"You can't coach that bit, it's just guys wanting to do it for each other. We needed that tonight."

Liam Gill was a standout contributor as he combined with fellow backrowers and good friends Jake Schatz and Eddie Quirk to produce another tireless performance at the breakdown.

"I think Liam is an outstanding player, he is in the game in so many different ways," McKenzie said.

"He has lots of skills and makes contributions, including winning lineouts for us. He attacks, defends and is a very slippery player carrying the ball. He is doing exactly what we expect him to do."

The Reds went to the break with a slim 11-9 advantage and they extended their lead early in the second period through Simmons' maiden try for the Reds, with the big lock driving over the line from the base of the ruck in the 49th minute.

The final 20 minutes of the match was a scrappy affair with the Hurricanes unable to finish a number of opportunities with the Reds shutting out the competition's leading try scorers from 2012 with their desperate defensive efforts.

The Reds will now turn their attention to next Friday's round four Super Rugby clash against the Rebels in Melbourne before returning to their fortress on Saturday 16 March against the Western Force.

"We've been to Melbourne twice now and they make it very difficult every time you play there," McKenzie said.

"In the early years their crowds were really happy just for the competitiveness of their team and cheered them to the death. If they get points and tries the crowd comes into the game.

"Tactically, the Rebels will be a challenge and we've had a look at them already. They will be difficult and it will be another physical game. They always are."

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