Nyngan Tigers captain-coach Stewart Mills expects a much better performance from his team in the Group 11 semi-finals, despite a high-scoring display while beating Dubbo Westside 66-18 on Sunday.
It brought to an end a tough season for Westside, but despite taking on one of the best teams in the competition, the players kept their heads in it until the 80th minute.
The Tigers ran in 12 tries, including seven in the first half, but Mills was far from pleased.
His team finished the regular season in second place, and have strung together six straight wins, but Mills felt his team were disappointing compared to their form while beating Dubbo CYMS 14-0 last week.
“It was a scrappy win. It’s not what we want coming into the semis,” he said.
“There are a few positives but obviously Westside weren’t contenders for the semis and they didn’t really throw much at us in defence. We didn’t stick to our structure and we got some lucky tries.”
Mills said he didn’t think it was a hangover from the intensity of last week’s giant-killing performance
“I think the boys weren’t ready for the game. We’ll head back to the drawing board on Tuesday,” he said.
Nyngan opened the scoring after just five minutes, with veteran forward Todd Rope getting over the try line.
The Tigers continued to press their advantage, doubling their score to 12-0 when Reece Goldsmith scored a converted try.
A mistake from a kick by the hosts allowed Nyngan to get their third in 14 minutes through Robert Gudgeon.
At that stage it looked like the visitors were heading for a big win but Westside hit back with two of their own, through Ty Blanchett and Carl Ralph to close the gap to 18-12.
It was a brief interlude to Nyngan’s dominance. Tries to Crete Wakka, Brett Howard, a second for Rope and Sam Simmons gave them a 40-12 lead at half-time.
The situation was made worse for Westside as they had Carl Ralph sinbinned with seconds to go in the first half. It was initially for five minutes but some backchat saw it extended to 10.
The second half was scrappier and Nyngan didn’t have the same attacking focus. They still ran in tries, with Simmons completing a hat-trick and Rope a double but the try of the half went to the Rabbitohs, with Sam Coe making a run before getting a flick pass to Ralph to score his second.
Rope capped a big game for the Tigers with the final conversion, while Simmons was a constant danger. For Westside, Blanchett took on the line, while Coe provided some spark.
Mills said he is expecting better in the coming weeks.
“We have to get back to our structure and what we do best and hopefully carry that into the semis,” he said.