It’s all about holding the ball

POSSESSION, possession, possession — that’s the catch-cry from the Steamers brains trust as it prepares for another acid test at Murrayfield today.

The defending premiers’ lack of ball security cost them dearly in the second round 36-22 loss to CSU.

And coach Mick Raines yesterday made it clear fixing that would be the priority in today’s clash with another likely top-four side, Wagga City.

It was its first home loss since July, 2011.

“It certainly cost us the game against the Reddies,” he said.

“We simply can’t be handing the ball to the opposition in our own half — anywhere on the field really. We gave up four tries with turnovers.

“So if we can cut down the turnovers, particularly around the ruck, and control the ball, it allows us to play on our terms.”

The Boiled Lollies come into the game with a similar record to the Steamers — they lost their first-round encounter with CSU 33-23 before a 64-15 thrashing of Leeton.

“They had the same sort of result against the Reddies,” Raines said.

“But they will be a test. We knew these first three games would be a challenge. If we can get over these hurdles, it should set us up for the year.

“There is a certain evenness to the competition that I think will mean we’ll see less of the blow-out scores we saw last year.

“We expect challenges, particularly in away games, by the likes of Griffith, Temora and Young.”

Raines said while the forwards were working on their attack and defence around the ruck, he was still experimenting with backline combinations.

The Steamers lost promising centre Pat Williams for 10 weeks to a medial and meniscus strain in the opening game, while back-breakaway Reece Le Cornu is recovering from a shoulder injury.

Inspirational prop James “House” Kora continues to play a cameo role in developing the Steamers front rowers.

“He has been coming off the bench,” Raines said.

“We are leaving it up to House as to the way he wants to play and there is no question he is probably not really match fit.

“But the plan, even in the pre-season, was to use his knowledge and experience to blood some of the younger forwards and, in particular, in the front row.”