Gunnedah coach Sean Hayne has again called on his players to show more defensive resolve or continue to suffer the consequences, like what happened against North Tamworth.
The Bears produced perhaps the best half of football of the season in the opening half against Gunnedah last round en route to a 44-18 win.
Pre-match Hayne called on his charges to rise to the defensive challenge against the reigning three-time premiers but then watched on as the Bears bullied them to lead 34-4 at half-time.
Gunnedah play South West at home on Sunday and meet Narrabri at home in the last round of the regular season, in a match that will likely decide who plays Norths in the major semi-final on August 27.
Hayne said: “We were pretty ordinary [against Norths]. Our defence, especially around the ruck, was ordinary and we gave them too much ground up the middle, really, and we fell off too many tackles.
“We sat down [after the match] and had a talk. What they [the players] thought.
“Our mistakes and what went wrong. Everyone pretty much had the same idea.
“Our defence was pretty poor and we fell off a lot of tackles. Our talk was pretty ordinary, both in attack and defence.
“We let them score a few tries on last-tackle plays.”
The Bulldogs dropped from second to third spot following the Bears loss.
But Hayne said the Bulldogs’ final table position was always going to hinge on the upcoming Narrabri match, given North Tamworth play Wee Waa and South West to finish the regular season and have a much stronger for-and-against percentage than Gunnedah.
The Bulldogs have beaten Narrabri twice this season. But Hayne said that would count for nothing if the Bulldogs’ defence did not improve.
“If we play like we did on the weekend they’re [Narrabri] going to steamroll us up the middle, the same as Norths did, and we’ll end up with the same result,” he said.
“We’ve got to fix up our attitude in defence and be a bit tighter and be a bit more committed.”
It’s the second week in a row Hayne has demanded a better defensive effort from his team.
However a look at their for-and-a-against record indicates Gunnedah’s offence is in need of more retooling.
In 13 matches the Bulldogs have scored 654 points and conceded 236, while North Tamworth have scored 822 points and conceded 148. Narrabri have scored 882 and let in 242.
In the other match on Sunday, Collegian play Narrabri at Jack Woolaston Oval.