Twenties back to basics before Mudgee mission

CENTRAL North 20s will be knuckling down to do some set-piece work when they reconvene next weekend.

The Kookaburras will train at Quirindi next Sunday.

It will be their last chance to fine-tune ahead of the Country Championships, which are in Mudgee the following weekend.

The set pieces will be one of the areas they will be focusing on after they didn’t function as well as coaches Garry Walsh and Barry Everingham would have liked against New England on Saturday.

They were one of the concerns arising from the trial.

Walsh said their discipline was also a concern, as is the way they lost shape a bit at times in defence.

In patches they “looked good” but it wasn’t consistent.

That said, there were some great signs. 

“I thought our broken field play was good,” Walsh said.

They did some damage to the Lions returning kicks and from turnovers.

Their last try in the second period was the perfect example.

From a clearing kick from the Lions, George Rixon ran it back at the Lions defence. He was tackled but the Kookaburras were able to clear the ball quickly and got it out to centre Troy Martin, who got in behind the Lions defence, and opened up the space for the winger.

“In patches we built some phases nicely,” Walsh said.

“(And) Some of our broken field support was good.”

In both the first two thirds the Kookaburras started on fire.

They scored early back-to-back tries, in almost identical fashion as kicks bounced unfortunately and the Lions failed to clean up.

The second period tries were well-constructed and showed what they were capable of. 

They put it through the hands and some clever passing created space out wide.  Nathaniel Slater finished brilliantly for the second try. He stepped his way around several Lions defenders and then wrong-footed the Lions fullback.

The Kookaburras went on to win 36-19, but it wasn’t about the result.

It was about getting some structures in place and looking at options and 

combinations.

There were some really nice connections between the backs.

Zeb Buchanan and Hunter Barnett in the halves drove a lot of that and played well together.

The options outside of them are plentiful, and Walsh said selections were still up in the air.

Jake McLaughlin, Troy Martin, Ned O’Neill-Shaw and Keegan Loughrey all had runs there on Saturday.

The latter two were two of their best.

Walsh was also impressed by Rixon at fullback and Brendan Maxwell at 

hooker.

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