LACK of ball security and pressure has seen the Albury Wodonga Steamers suffer their second loss of the year, losing 36-27 to Tumut at Tumut.
Last year’s undefeated premiers were outgunned by the Bulls in the opening minutes, with the home team scoring twice before the blue and golds could respond.
The Bulls went to the break leading 26-10 but the Steamers had the score back to 29-27 inside the last 10 minutes.
“We just didn’t hold the ball for any length of time,” captain Nathan Bright said.
“They were a good side with a Welsh centre who has a touch of class but when we weren’t spilling the ball we were kicking it away.
“Had we played to our structure, starved them of possession then I think the gaps would have widened and it would have been a very different scoreline.”
Ryan Schischka, Arran MacDougall, Andy Kinnell and Tom Boyle were among the Steamers’ best, but coach Mick Raynes said the standard of rugby had gone up a notch this year, with any number of clubs capable of matching the best.
“Tumut is a good side, they had 14 points on us before we touched the ball,” he said.
“The ball handling was better but still well below where we want it to be.
“And the referee said it was the best game he had been involved with in the past seven years.
“But some players need to switch on, at the moment they are assuming they are going to be playing in August and unless we can find 15 to 20 per cent we won’t be there, we are not playing badly but every team has gone up a level.”
The Steamers face Wagga Ag College at home this week.
“We need to go back to simple structures and maintain possession,“ he said.
“Tumut will be around the six if they can play as well as that away from home and so will Ag College.
“Many of these teams from the smaller country towns have really worked hard in the off season — on recruiting and fitness and that is showing in results across the competition, not just against the Steamers.
“We simply need to play to our game plan and be patient.”