Reds on rugby alert for in-form Sharks
The Sharks are circling the Queensland Reds but captain Liam Wright has welcomed the timely test after their 10-try Super Rugby therapy session last Saturday night.
The Reds' record 64-5 defeat of the Sunwolves was reward for three previously encouraging but fruitless weeks on the road.
It pushed them to second in the Australian conference and ninth overall, with this Saturday's clash against the Durban-based Sharks (3-1) shaping as the perfect litmus test for the improved side.
"The best way to vent was to do good stuff; we're glad we could put them to the sword and the vibe's been good since," captain Liam Wright said.
"We wanted to put up ... that 80-minute performance, but we still let up at stages which we'll try and fix this week."
Wright knows the lapses in previous games can't be repeated against the in-form South African outfit, who he says will test his young team's football smarts at Suncorp Stadium.
Lightning-fast winger Makazole Mapimpi and fullback Aphelele Fassi tormented the Melbourne Rebels in their Ballarat win last weekend, while they are complemented by a typically brutish South African forward pack.
Wright, born in Durban before his move as a child to Brisbane, knows what's coming on Saturday but says the challenge is to be clever enough to stop it.
"They tend to kick the ball back, make us play out and use on-ballers to win it back, play off turnovers and attack out wide from there with their pace," he said.
"That opens up opportunities for us; they're going to make us play with the ball a lot, so we have to manage that well, use our game managers to put us well into their end and trust our defence to keep us there.
"A big part of it is not overplaying our hand ... playing smart footy, getting to the right end of the field and jumping on their errors."
Doing so would be a step in the right direction after the Brumbies, Lions and Jaguares all overcame second-half deficits against the Reds because they failed to adapt to their opponents' tactical shifts.
Almost 12,000 fans turned up for the side's first home game last week and Wright said he felt the sense of occasion as they looked to prove their credentials this weekend.
"We are playing for them, so it was awesome to see them show faith in us and hopefully they'll do it again this week," he said.