Raucous fans lift Steamers’ game

Steamers’ Gareth Edwards meets a tackle from Wagga Ag’s Thomas Macleay.

Steamers’ Gareth Edwards meets a tackle from Wagga Ag’s Thomas Macleay.

Ash Lefevre in a typical barnstorming run brought the scores to 21-26. Pictures: PETER MERKESTEYN

Ash Lefevre in a typical barnstorming run brought the scores to 21-26. Pictures: PETER MERKESTEYN

A FOUR-try second-half comeback has locked the Steamers into third spot on the Southern Districts rugby ladder.

The blue and golds looked like the undefeated premiers from last year when they put on 26 points in the last 20 minutes to beat Ag College 40-26 at Murrayfield.

But the first 60 minutes was far less impressive.

Three penalties in the first minute and 48 seconds was all the Aggies needed to get over the try line, while 20 turnovers in the first half alone had the visitors leading 26-14 well into the second half.

Coach Mick Raynes said a raucous crowd had lifted the Steamers when they started to hit their straps late in the game.

“The impact of several players off the bench was critical and when the crowd got involved the whole match turned around,” he said.

“But it was just a repeat of our season so far.

“Too many errors, dropping the final pass, giving away penalties for the first 40-plus minutes.

“The first-half error count was seven penalties, eight turnovers and five unforced errors.

“What keeps us in these games is our heart — the players’ refusal to be down and out, not believe that they are capable of winning.”

The Steamers lost halfback Tom Wilmore and openside flanker Gareth Edwards to injury early in the game.

Neither is expected to miss more than a week.

Raynes said it was captain Nathan Bright who led the comeback.

“Brighty scored twice and big runs from Col Hogan and Tom Boyle changed the tone of the game,” he said.

“In the last 20 minutes we got our pattern going and started to play like the side from last year.

“Out wide Adam Clements was good and first gamer Oscar Ramsden showed he was more than capable of playing first grade.

“But you could have given the three points to the reserve bench who were major contributors and the supporters who could have got the two points in the win.”

The Steamers are away to the win-less Leeton next week.

“We don’t take any game lightly the way we are playing at the moment,” Raynes said.

“We have a five-week plan to deal with the lead-in to the competition being split into the top and bottom division — that includes the bye when we play Deniliquin and a tough game away against Griffith.

“We need to have the points in the bank before we go into the Walsh and Blair Cup (top-6).”

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