The Tamworth Kangaroos were given an almighty scare by an intrepid Gunnedah Bulldogs outfit at No. 1 Oval today, in a tight match which the home side won by just over four goals.
One of Tamworth's two assistant coaches, Ben Mitchell, said that while the visitors played well, the Kangaroos "expected that we'd play a little bit better".
"We always knew that Gunnedah is a tough side, but in the first half, we weren't playing the way we wanted to play," Mitchell said.
"A few things didn't work for us, and that made it into a tight affair."
After a competitive first quarter, Tamworth's nadir came in the second when the Bulldogs used their size and physicality to force the Kangaroos to play their way.
It produced what Mitchell described as "honest chats" at half time between the players and head coach Richard Nicholl.
"Once we worked out what we needed to do, the second half worked a little bit better for us and we played a little bit better," he said.
"We just reflected on how we're all performing and where we can improve. I certainly thought after half time we made inroads to where we can improve.
"But we were like a lost cat for most of that second quarter, we started really well and then lost our way."
After the discussions at half time, the Kangaroos tightened their performance and, despite some late goals to the Bulldogs, extended their 2022 win streak to three games with a 109-83 win.
They have so far compiled an impressive record for a side which is caught between adapting to new tactics and learning the game's fundamentals.
"We're teaching people to play football while we're teaching Richard's structures," Mitchell said.
"There's a lot of new guys that are learning football, and then there's a lot of us older guys that are learning Richard's way. There's a lot of learning for everyone involved, which is exciting.
"We go to training and the way we are training is really exciting."
The "real test", Mitchell added, will come next weekend when the Kangaroos take on the Tamworth Swans in the first local derby of the year.
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