IT was a familiar story for the Northern Inland 17s against Sydney North West at TAS on Sunday – too many missed tackles and too many turnovers.
The Sydneysiders were too classy for the local boys, outgunning them 50-nil.
It was their heaviest defeat so far in the ARU Junior Gold Cup and reflected a disappointing performance.
Things started better than against Hunter the week before.
They didn’t knock on the kick-off this time and didn’t concede the early try, but the visitors quickly stamped their authority on the game and, by half-time, were up 24-nil.
Again, defence was an issue. They weren’t making those basic one-on-one tackles.
“We just bled through the midfield again,” head coach Andrew Verrell said.
It was more straight through this time though.
Last week Hunter continually caught them out out wide.
On Sunday, Sydney North inside centre Luke Lough carved them up.
He was a handful all day. He scored the Sydney side’s opening try and cut through again not long after to set up his left winger.
Northern Inland’s discipline didn’t help them. They lost three players to the bin.
“The bottom line is you can’t defend against a side like that with 14 men for 30 minutes,” Verrell said.
“Eventually they’re going to find a hole, which they did.”
Not surprisingly, the talk at half-time was defence – getting their defensive structure right and trying to limit Sydney North’s scoring opportunities.
They started out all right, holding Sydney North at bay for a little while, but the weight of possession eventually told.
That was another issue for the home side.
“We had no ball,” Verrell said.
“Possession-wise, we probably had 30 per cent.”
When they did get it, they couldn’t do a lot with it.
They just didn’t seem to have any rhythm and couldn’t really put Sydney North under pressure.
It wasn’t all bad.
“Some of the other stuff was good,” Verrell said. “We were pretty competitive at the breakdown.”
They were able to disrupt the Sydney North ball a bit and frustrate them.
He also thought they scrambled in defence pretty well and couldn’t fault their effort.
“The boys worked overtime,” Verrell said.
That was evident in the tired bodies at the end of the game.