THIRD-grade rugby is the blunt assessment of the Steamers by coach Mick Raynes in the wake of a shock 21-17 loss to Leeton.
The reigning premiers travelled to the irrigation districts to tackle the last-placed and win-less Phantoms on Saturday.
But the Steamers went to the break down 21-0.
The blue and golds took until well into the last 20 minutes of the game to put any points on the board, the three-try comeback thwarted in the dying minutes by dropped ball.
Raynes said it was the story of the day.
“We just fell off tackles, dropped the ball, the last pass went to ground,” he said.
“It was third-grade rugby stuff.
“We were out-enthused and sloppy.
“In nearly every game this year we have had to come from behind or been level with the opposition at half-time.
“We seem to play to the opposition’s standard rather than setting the tone ourselves.
“It has gone on so long now that we have lost confidence, each dropped ball feeding into that.
“It was a little wet, a little slippery but the opposition didn’t drop as many balls as we did, didn’t slide off as many tackles as us either.”
Raynes said prop Alex Lord, in his first-grade debut, was the pick of the Steamers winning the players player and the three points.
English front rower Arran MacDougall and Nick Barbara were others to show some fight in the lacklustre performance.
“Barbara started at halfback but then the fullback Lucas Boye did his groin after about 10 minutes and we switched him back there,” he said.
“Lord is a big unit and copped a hammering from the opposition but just kept going all day.
“We’ve had no luck with injuries this year but we just can’t make excuses — on paper the squad we took to Leeton should have got the job done.”
Raynes said they needed to re-group ahead of the clash with Griffith in two weeks.
“We need to get up for that game,” he said.
“After that we have the bye in first grade and then finish the first round with Temora.
“We’d expect to still finish in the top-six but it’s not the way we wanted to do it.
“We need to rebuild the team’s confidence and start playing our rugby rather than simply matching the standard of the opposition we are playing.”