We didn’t get the result we wanted at Townsville last Saturday, which means my brother Kristian and my son Brent have the bragging rights for a few weeks in family until we play the Blackhawks again in round 19.
But we weren’t as bad as the 38-4 score suggests.
It was a pretty tough week for the boys, considering we had two long trips a week apart (after playing the Hunters in Port Moresby) and had to play in hot humid conditions with a six-day turnaround.
The team had only three days at home in between and I could see the players involved in both games fatigue in the Blackhawks game earlier than they normally would have.
And we had a lot of new combinations with Titans Leilani Latu, Brendan Elliot and Ryan Simpkins having their first runs with us this season (it was Brendan and Ryan’s first games of the year), as were Shane Gillham and Ethan Roberts.
I really believe if we can get a win soon, and we need to respect possession more to give us a better chance of getting that victory, that the confidence will grow and we can sling a few wins together.
The class is there, and we’ve shown that at times, particularly in the round one match against Norths Devils when we were beaten 24-12 (it was 20-12 until the last three minutes), and against Burleigh Bears in round three when it was 20-12 with five minutes to go before they scored two tries and it went out to 30-12.
They are the top two sides on the ladder and have lost one game out of 10 between them.
Our top completion rate in five games is 68 per cent, and that’s just not good enough. Rarely can you win a match by giving up that much possession.
We have to play with more patience and put more polish on the end of our sets.
Sure, we want to score tries when in ‘good ball’ – but not off every set. We also have to be willing to get through set and not push passes and put ourselves under pressure when a repeat set would be better.
We’ve got centre Brayden McGrady back from suspension to take on Wynnum Manly tonight (7pm at Kougari Stadium in Brisbane) which is great; he was in good form in the first two rounds. Ethan Roberts has been suspended for one match for a shoulder charge, so Lindon McGrady comes back into the side and his combination with Brayden can produce something special if we can give them the right opportunities.
Keegan Hipgrave drops back from the Titans too and will give us some aggression in the middle.
‘Keegs’ was outstanding in his few games for the Gullies last season but has only had two matches in 2018, both for the Titans, so he might be a bit underdone. But his energy and physical attitude will hopefully be a real lift for us.
The main thing we need this week is just more ‘smarts’ with the ball. We’ve been a mile-off where we need to be in completions and that affects everything else when you don’t have ball.
Wynnum were beaten 40-6 by Souths Logan last weekend and have been up and down, sitting on two wins from five. But they’ve got plenty of class in their side.
Two young Broncos forwards in Payne Haas and Patrick Carrigan can be a handful, and they have Michael Dobson, who has played plenty of English Super League and some NRL football, and is a very good organising halfback. And we don’t want to give their winger Delouise Hoeter any room to move.
But I feel we have enough strike too, especially with Brayden back in the centres. Townsville just couldn’t handle AJ Brimson at fullback in the first 30 minutes last weekend but he seemed to go into his shell a bit. That’s part of the learning curve for him but if we can give him the momentum to really involve himself from the back, our forwards can do a good job up front and out halves can take more consistent control than they have been – a win is not far away.
Hopefully it comes on Saturday, so we can head home for just our second home game of the season, against Easts on Sunday week, with a bit of confidence and momentum.