WRAPPED UP: Griffith Blacks player Andre Boon is going nowhere after being caught by the Albury defence. Picture: Anthony Stipo
The Griffith Blacks recorded consecutive defeatsfor the first time in the Southern Inland Rugby Union season on Saturday after losing 37-31 to the Albury Steamers.
The grand final re-match saw the reigning premiers go down to thecurrent competition leaders at Coro oval, the game producing an entertaining spectacle.
The Blacks werecruising early in the clash as theirforward pack dominated the middle exchanges to set up a19-5 advantage.
But the Steamers are leading the competition for a reason.
On the back of penalties and extra possession, the visitors scored four tries to lead 31-19 at the break.
The Blacks had their opportunities in the second half and brought it back to 31-26,but the Steamers pulled away again before a late rallyfrom the home side fell just short.
Vaea Mateo was outstanding for the Blacks and finished with a personal haul of 21 points after scoring three tries and nailing three conversions.
Nick Gleeson and Semisi Rogoyawa were the Blacks’ other try scorers.
Blacks co-coach Matt Vitucci said it was a game his teamcould have won with better decision making.
“It was there for the taking, but we didn’t capitalise on our opportunities as much as we should’veand we gave away silly penalties and silly errors,” he said.
“Albury are too good of a side to pass up on them and they made the most of it in the end.It’s just something we’re going to have to try and learn from.”
Saturday’s loss was the Blacks’ second in as many weeks after they went down to CSU 20-15 the previous round.
Despite the results, Griffith remainthird on the ladder after nine rounds.
Vitucci said the Blacks were still well positionedahead of the competition split in two weeks.
“The losswasn’t too bad a result for us,” he said.
“It’s given us a good look at what we need to work onand given as a good gauge of where we’re at in the season.”
In other results against Albury, Hay (Griffith) won reserve grade 42-0, while the Blacks women’s side won its clash 39-7.
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