RICHARD Manion says the Steamers simply went back to enjoying their rugby.
The Southern District competition’s best player last year was back to his best in a dominant 34-11 win over Griffith at Murrayfield on Saturday.
Despite conceding the first try against the run of play Manion said the defending premiers were always on top.
“Perhaps that (shock) loss to Leeton was the best thing that could have happened to us,” he said.
“Since then we have two weeks of great training sessions, aimed at building our confidence and getting us back to just enjoying the game.
“I think a few of us, me included, probably haven’t been doing that in the first part of the season.
“Even though Griffith scored first it was against the run of play, we were always on top.”
Captain Nathan Bright took his forward pack for a special bonding session just hours before the clash, urging them to lift for what was set to be a season-defining clash.
“Whatever he said worked,” Manion said.
“We cut out a lot of the err-ors — errors that had plagued our performance this year.
“It was the same principle as last year, deny the opposition the ball, control the rucks, and exhaust their defence.
“That was what made us so potent last year and it showed again against the All Blacks.”
Steamers coach Mick Raynes said Manion was outstanding.
“There is no doubt that Richie has been targeted by the opposition this year,” he said.
“Last year he was able to run the ball at will but this year it has be a case of less is more and on Saturday it was his use of those around him that was so outstanding.”
Raynes said line breaks by Ash Lefevre and Tom Boyle had helped the Steamers stamp their authority on the game.
He also threw Oscar Ramsden, 18, into the best player ranks.
“One of the things we have been missing this year has been line breaks,” Raynes said.
“But both Ash and Tom delivered those runs, crashing through the middle of the ruck, breaking up the Griffith defence.
“We all know how good Ash can be, and that has shown in his selection in rep sides, but Tommy is an assertive forward who dominates his opponent.
“It led to long periods of phase rugby, sustained pressure.
“Ramsden scored his first try in first grade and we are putting a lot of pressure on him to use his size and bulk to dominate.”
Raynes said the Steamers were on track to defend their crown.
“Outside the loss we’re about where we expected to be at this point in the year,” he said.