A level above. That is how Reds coach Nick Stiles has described New Zealand rugby after the end of Queensland's Super Rugby season with a 40-17 thrashing by the Highlanders in Dunedin.

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The young Reds on Friday night were willing and former Brisbane NRL player Caleb Timu scored his first Super Rugby try across the ditch.

Despite not having to face rested All Blacks Aaron and Ben Smith, every fundamental error was punished.

By the ninth minute, they were down 14-0 as Waisake Naholo and James Lentjes surged over off the back of Reds turnovers. Even when possession swung back towards Queensland, they conceded again to fall into a 21-0 hole.

Alex Mafi scored his first Super Rugby try and giant forward Izack Rodda crossed as well, but the Reds never seriously challenged the finals-bound Highlanders.

"The intensity that New Zealand teams play at is just a level above," Stiles said.

"It just shows you the difference in the skill execution; the pressure you are under defensively; the speed that the game is played at.

Stiles described the Highlanders - and all New Zealand teams - as ruthless after the Reds were hammered time and time again for errors even though they dominated possession for much of the game.

"In the first half, we probably left two tries out there," he said.

"Genuine tries, by a lack of not passing the ball, one more pass, or a poor last pass.

"That's the difference between where Australian sides are at the moment compared to New Zealand sides."

To make matters worse, newly minted Wallaby Karmichael Hunt limped off after just 13 minutes with an ankle injury.

But early indications don't appear to have him in any doubt for the Wallabies' upcoming Tests against South Africa, Argentina and the Bledisloe Cup clashes with New Zealand.

"It's too early to tell, (but) he is walking around - he doesn't look too bad," Stiles said.

"I think it will just be a bump."

With the Reds' finals hopes long extinguished, Stiles turned his focus recently to blooding young talent.

That included teenagers Hamish Stewart, Reece Hewat and Jayden Ngamanu, as well as 20-year-olds Rodda, Campbell Magnay, Izaia Perese, Mafi and 21-year-olds James Tuttle, Taniela Tupou and Moses Sorovi who all made the roster against the Highlanders.

"The whole group was a really new group together at the start of the year ... we bought a lot of young kids into our roster," he said.

"With that brings a lack of cohesion."

AAP

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