ALBURY Thunder suffered a hiccup on the eve of the Group 9 rugby league finals when it went down to Southcity 24-18 at Wagga’s Harris Park yesterday.
After losing Jake Grace and Josh Cale early, the Thunder struggled to counter the Bulls who managed to stay a step ahead of their opponents throughout the round 17 match.
“I just hope the boys don’t rest on this because come semi-final time (Albury are) going to play a lot better and it’ll be totally different,” Southcity coach Daniel Fitzhenry said afterwards.
It was a disappointing finish to the home and away series for Albury who must wait three weeks to atone when they will meet Southcity or Gundagai in the major semi-final at Greenfield Park.
Cale said he was unsure whether his team relaxed after stitching up top spot last weekend.
“Yes and no,” Cale said.
“We probably just weren’t as polished as we have been and full credit to Southcity as they came out firing and ready to play.
“A couple of lapses hurt us, our execution wasn’t great and a couple of disallowed tries didn’t help either.”
Albury were dealt a blow early when Jake Grace was concussed and Cale joined him on the sidelines with a calf injury before half-time.
Neither played after the break and Bulls’ star Will Merritt took full advantage with a classy performance.
Albury was forced to play catch-up football for most of the match with Mitch Davis, Andrew Cowhan and Lou Goodwin shouldering a huge workload in the heavy conditions.
But every time they scored the Bulls responded to add further intrigue to the finals series.
“I was happy with our effort, but it just wasn’t our day,” Cale said.
“Southcity played well and we didn’t take our chances.
“We will have a couple of weeks off and get ready for a big first final.”
Albury has the bye this weekend while Southcity takes on Tumbarumba and Gundagai meets Young.