Ill-discipline from the Dubbo Rhinos has cost them a win against the visiting CSU Bathurst side on Saturday in the New Holland Cup at Apex Oval.
The Rhinos lead the students 21-5 at halftime before errors and penalties allowed the visitors back into the match with the score finishing 32-21.
Rhinos prop Brett Austin felt it was a different game in the second half after a strong start.
"Our first half, we just did what we have trained," he said.
"It was probably our simplest footy we have played all year, we kept it simple and executed and killed it.
"Our second half we went to sleep and gave them a sniff.
"That's what CSU can do to you."
The Rhinos had three players red carded and Austin knows it had a massive impact on the result.
"Having three guys in the bin didn't help," he said.
"Playing 15 on 12, you are never going to be the students.
"That's our own fault, all the cards were warranted for stupid play some of our guys did.
"You can get a heap of points put on you in a hurry."
A positive sign for the Rhinos is scoring 21 points in a half against one of the best teams in the competition and Austin agreed.
"Definitely, we know we can run with the best of them," he said.
"The frustrating thing is we just can't do it for 80 minutes.
"We know we are easily premiership material but we've sort of been building and building."
The Rhinos now move back to fourth position and will need results to go their way if they are any chance of hosting a home semi-final but Austin feels they are not far away from where they need to be.
"We wanted to start peaking at this time of year," he said.
I think we are playing some of our best footy but just some brain explosions and not having that killer instinct is costing us.
"When you've got a side there you have to put them away but we lack that and over the last couple of years not even winning games we haven't built that and it's something that will come."
Dale Smith scored two of the tries for the Rhinos in the win.
In the round's other match Mudgee overtook the Rhinos for third position after a dominant 42-12 win over Narromine.
The Gorillas still sit without a win this season and will host the Rhinos next Saturday.
The undefeated Parkes Boars will host what will likely be the grand final preview when CSU visit next weekend.
CSU sit six points behind Parkes in first place.
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