Youthful Reds show their growth vs Sharks

Brad Thorn has encouraged his Reds to maintain their high standard after defeating the Sharks.
Brad Thorn has encouraged his Reds to maintain their high standard after defeating the Sharks.

The desire to make amends for a poor Super Rugby showing against the Bulls in Pretoria was the catalyst for the Queensland Reds' drought-breaking win in Durban, coach Brad Thorn says.

Without a victory at Kings Park since 2004, the Queenslanders rose to the occasion on Friday to beat the Sharks 21-14 and breathe life into their season.

Thorn confessed to being unaware of the milestone in the aftermath of their victory, saying atonement for last week's effort against the Bulls was the focus.

"We didn't want to get on the plane without having something to take back with us," Thorn said.

"The guys put in an effort across the park ... respect to (the Sharks), they never say die, they were pushing for the draw right to the end."

The Reds led 21-7 thanks to tries from Bryce Hegarty, Chris Feauai-Sautia and Tate McDermott but faced some anxious moments as the home side crossed in the 79th minute and threatened to pinch a draw after the siren.

But the Reds held firm in defence at the death, with Durban-born forward Liam Wright forcing a turnover at the breakdown to secure victory.

"It was a proud moment for a young man who had a great game today," Thorn said of the 21-year-old openside flanker.

"Thanks to Durban for giving me one of your lads, he's done a good job."

Wright was one of seven starters in the Reds' forward pack aged 22 years or younger, with 140-game loose forward Scott Higginbotham adding experience.

Having worked with this group at both under-20s level and with Queensland Country in the National Rugby Championships, Thorn felt they took another step in their growth against the Sharks.

The Reds temporarily move into second spot in the Australian conference with vital games against the Sunwolves, Rebels and Waratahs to come.

"We've got to get to a point where we have a line in the sand and say this is the standard and we're not dropping back," Thorn said.

Australian Associated Press