Shaw Cross Sharks suffered a 12-8 defeat in a tough National Conference Division One trip to Milford Marlins last Saturday.
The Sharks came back from a half-time deficit to lead thanks to a Sam Ottewell try and two Shaun Squires goals but couldn’t hold on as Milford stole it with 10 minutes to go.
It was a tough contest throughout and it took more than half an hour for the first points to be scored.
That was largely down to superb try-line defending from the visitors early on, making up for some errors as Milford were given the early territory.
Ryan Chalkley went closest for Sharks but was held up, before Milford’s Andy Barker scored the first try after a high kick caused chaos.
The conversion helped Milford into a 6-0 half-time lead, although the Sharks went close to replying when Matthew Tebb made a break and offloaded to Squires, but his kick back inside couldn’t quite find Chalkley.
Shaw Cross thought they should have scored 10 minutes into the second half, when Chalkley pounced on a loose pass and offloaded to Squires to sprint to the line, but the officials decided that he had been held up in the left corner.
Five minutes later they did have a try however, as Squires made the break and went past another defender before offloading for Ottewell to score.
Squires’ conversion brought the scores level, and he edged the Sharks ahead with a penalty goal soon after.
Squires was sent to the bin not long after that and despite some sharp defending the pressure from Milford finally told as a good passing move put Jacob Skinner through the defence to score.
The conversion made it 12-8 and that was how it remained despite a late Sharks onslaught. They forced a number of repeat sets in the final minutes but Milford held firm.
Sharks coach Zach Johnson was disappointed with the display, saying: “That is the worst we’ve played and we only lost by four points, but we defended 70 per cent of the time and Melbourne Storm aren’t going to win like that so I don’t think we’re going to.
“I’m not happy with our process, I think we got marched down the field because we made a mess of the ruck.
“As an attacking outfit we offered nothing, we went as individuals and when those individuals did try things it didn’t work.
“I was a bit embarrassed. Too many players think they know better than how we were meant to play and they are just coming up with their own individual stuff and it’s not working.”
“There will be some hard lessons learned and some tough conversations had.”
Shaw Cross face a derby clash with Thornhill Trojans on Saturday (2.30pm) and Johnson says his side need to step up with bragging rights at stake.
He added: “If we can’t get up for a derby then we’re in the wrong game. It will be tough and physical and personnel wise there are a few changes to be made.
“We need to put a win on the board now because the longer we go without a win the more pressure we put on ourselves.
“Pressure is just going to make it tough for us so we need to step up.”