BARRABA is making something of habit of close losses this season.
Saturday’s 10-3 loss to Tamworth was the Rams’ third loss by nine points or less in four games.
They led for almost half of what was a fairly dour game, with conditions making it difficult to play attacking rugby with any flair or confidence, but couldn’t crack it for their first win.
A Bryce Daniels intercept midway through the second half turned the game in the home side’s favour.
The Rams couldn’t come up with an answer and didn’t really have a lot of opportunity to, with Tamworth arguably enjoying the better of the territory after that.
It’s valuable in any game and even more so when it’s wet, and Rams coach Ben Crowley thought they probably lost out there.
“We were pushed down our end too much either through discipline or 50-50 calls,” Crowley said.
The Rams were coming off a hammering from Narrabri the game before and, while not getting the result they wanted, were better in a few areas.
Defence for one. The Magpies’ only try came from an intercept.
“The defence was really good, especially up front in the forwards,” Crowley said.
“They were super today.”
They had to do a lot of defending, with the conditions tightening up the attack.
“It was hard to control the ball when it went wide,” Crowley said.
He thought their cover defence was also pretty good.
They were also fairly effective at spoiling at the breakdown and slowing down the Magpies’ ball.
“We were allowing them to make the rucks messy,” Magpies co-coach Tony Mills said.
“We’d talked about keeping that clean.”
He said he wasn’t too concerned at 3-nil down at half-time, and spoke about being more decisive in attack and looking for options wider.
“We wanted to try to penetrate in the middle and then push it wide,” he said.
Preferably through the hands – a message he tried to get across several times by yelling out “hands”.
“It’s the first time in four rounds we had the same combination in key positions,” he said.
Heading into the game, Mills’s coaching partner Ross Duncan had spoken about needing to build pressure.
Mills felt in patches they were able to do that, although the conditions did make that a bit more difficult.
Like Crowley, he was very happy with their defence.
“A number of times they had good field position,” he said.
“We were very sound in defence and let them through.”
It was the area they made the greatest improvement in from Quirindi the previous week, he thought.
Notably the scrum also went better.
“We had a lot better platform to work off,” he said.
The Magpies have with Saturday’s win already doubled their win ratio from last season and will be hoping to make it three straight against Scone this Saturday.