Reds' horror run against NZ sides continues after blowing big lead against Hurricanes

A second-half capitulation has brought the undermanned Reds back down to earth after they squandered a 17-0 lead against the Hurricanes to extend their horror run against New Zealand opposition.

Taking to the field without James O'Connor and Jordan Petaia, the Reds were labelled the underdogs with inexperienced Lawson Creighton taking on the playmaking role, while Jock Campbell was needed to take his game to another level in order to threaten the Canes.

Much to the crowd's and the Hurricanes' surprise, it was the Reds who were on the board first through a penalty before they quickly added to their tally through a nice Hamish Stewart try off the back of a slick Hunter Paisami move in the 23rd minute, and again through Fraser McReight who peeled off the back of the maul to dot it down in the 28th minute.

But that would be where the Reds dominance would end. Building some ascendancy and looking dominant in defence, an knock-down runaway try to Canes wing Bailyn Sullivan put the game back in his team's favour before a yellow card to Connor Vest for a high tackle just before the halftime hooter took the steam out of the Queenslanders.

Almost immediately the Canes struck back through Tyrel Lomax, before minutes into the second half they were inside the Reds' redzone again with Lomax adding another score to his name.

The wheels slowly began to fall off the Reds' bus as mistakes began to riddle their game and the penalties began to pile up. McReight found himself on the wrong side of the referee on several occasions, while the Reds' lineout began to stutter as the pressure began to build. A 15-10 turnover count exemplified just what went wrong for the side.

"Yeah, just the games have ebbs and flows," Reds coach Brad Thorn said post-match. "Pretty gutted really and I know the players are as well just around where that got to.

"You turn that much ball over, and discipline, we gave away quite a few penalties that second half and you can't be in the game with those guys, so it's this dealing with pressure.

"[Fraser McReight's] playing some good footy, he had some close ones tonight where he got penalized, he's pretty quick on the ball, so I guess maybe he needs to show more hands. There's a few opportunities there I know he could have got a turnover, but he's all over the place, highly competitive, but I'm pretty disappointed."

Attempting to nullify the Hurricanes explosive backline and give their own back three a chance to dominant the game, the Reds looked to use a shallow kicking game hoping to make the game about the aerial contest, but on several occasions they failed to nail the execution.

"Yeah, I think our plan going into the game was obviously to make it an aerial contest, which we didn't do," Reds captain Tate McDermott said. "So that's the reason for the shallower kicks and we've got wingers like Suliasi [Vunivalu], Lipo [Filipo Daugunu] and Jock [Campbell] under the high ball.

"But we're just not getting up, so we're basically giving them free ball in in the right areas, and that's key learnings for the back three, we got to be better otherwise, we're coming up against fullbacks just as good as Jordy [Barrett] in the next couple of weeks, so that's probably the key learning for the bacteria tagging into the next game."

Frustratingly for Thorn, his team faces the same lessons they undertook last year when they collapsed following their Super Rugby AU triumph to win just one of their five matches in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman.

"We learned this last year as well," Thorn said. "You give them ball, they're quality players and a quality team, they'll use it.

"They were under pressure and they battled away and then got the opportunity where the game went their way and we didn't handle that pressure so well, so you've got to take those lessons.

"This next four-to-five weeks is going to be tough, and we'll be looking to improve and compete to win games. Tonight we were competitive for a portion, but against these good sides has to be kind to sort of switch off and switch on and you got to learn that fast if you if you want to be amongst it."