THE Albury Wodonga Steamers and their walking wounded have turned their attention to next week and the do-or-die clash with CSU.
The blue and golds were consigned to the elimination semi after a spirited loss to Griffith at the Coro Club Ground on Saturday.
The Steamers had led 17-14 with 15 minutes to go, but two long-range tries from the Blacks’ potent backline turned the game in favour of the home side.
It was Griffith’s seventh win on the trot and took it to second on the ladder and the major semi-final against Waratahs.
Steamers coach Mick Raynes said their attention had immediately switched to next week.
“We did remarkably well on what is a very long road trip,” he said.
“We just lost a few to niggling injuries during the week and we were really tested with our depth against a side that is playing some very good rugby.
“Griffith is good and their backs are as exciting a set of backs as you are going to see.
“As usual we gave up the first try but for the first time this year we stuck to the gameplan.
“When Blake Le Cornu scored and we hit the front all looked good but then Blake had to come off after a knock to his jaw and they scored two tries through the backs.
“But as soon as the game was over we switched to next week.”
Raynes said the Steamers’ best included Richard Manion, Brandon Lewsey, Col Hogan and Gareth Edwards.
“The clash between Griffith’s (and former Fijian international) Dan Rawaqa was probably a draw,” he said.
“Richie was in the game all the time, always at the line with the ball or in defence.
“Their other gun Mariak Vunibaka (a former Super Rugby player) was pretty well held by Le Cornu and Liam Krautz in the centres.”
Raynes said he would not be sucked in by CSU’s talk of injury lists and underdogs ahead of Saturday’s semi-final.
“They love nothing more than being the underdog, talking down their chances — believe nothing they say,” he said.
“There is no tomorrow for either side.
“We’ll spend Tuesday night assessing players, perhaps have a lighter training session but I expect most of the boys that missed the game or played injured should be fully fit for Reddies.
“We have some things to work on, we still had some turnovers at the rucks, running in too high and Griffith was able to challenge us at the mauls.”
Raynes believes Griffith is a good chance to make it eight wins straight and progress straight to the grand final.
“It will be Waratahs forwards vs Griffith backs,” he said.
“At the moment the Griffith forwards are standing up and if they can hold their own then they will be right in that game.”