Brad Thorn has challenged his side to maintain their consistency after the Reds floundered in the first game of a season-defining road trip.
But they came crashing back to earth at Loftus Versfeld as the Bulls capitalised on a series of Reds errors to power their way to a bonus point 32-17 victory.
Thorn, who signed a one-year extension during the week to stay with the Reds until the end of the 2020 season, refused to make excuses for his squad after they dropped to second-from-bottom in Super Rugby’s Australian conference.
“One of the things I looked at from last year is consistency which I guess every team is striving for that,” Thorn said.
“To build that, it’s what you do during the week; you can’t just turn up and hope that it plays out.
“When you come to South Africa, there’s a long-haul trip, you get used to the time zones and all that sort of stuff but it doesn’t matter; you’ve still got to play a game.”
Thorn found the contest tough to watch, especially in the first 40 minutes as the Bulls dominated possession with a collection of Reds turnovers ensuring they were pinned in their own half.
“The Bulls just looked after things a bit better than we did and created some good opportunities but they did have some errors as well,” Thorn said.
“They were probably disappointed with some stuff as well which is frustrating as a visiting team – there were opportunities there for us if we were clinical and built our game.”
Reds skipper Samu Kerevi continued his impressive Super Rugby campaign with two second-half tries while Lukhan Salakaia-Loto was the pick of the forwards, his line break and offload setting up Kerevi’s first five-pointer.
But Thorn knows his entire squad needs to be switched on as they head to Durban to prepare for Friday’s matchup with the Sharks, who fell from the top of the South African conference after conceding 51 points in a shock loss to the Jaguares.
“If we take that sort of game down to the Sharks, it will be a tough day,” he said.
“We’ve just got to work hard, lick our wounds and prepare for the Sharks – they are a strong side and it’s tough to win down there.”
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