The Maitland Pickers are in a three-way share of fifth spot on the Newcastle Rugby League ladder following their third loss of the season.
The two-time defending premiers were downed 34-22 by South Newcastle at Townson yesterday, which leaves them on the edge of the semi-final spots with one match in hand.
Pickers coach Ron Griffiths had a simple explanation for the result in the seventh round encounter.
“We were just outplayed by a better team today [Sunday],” Griffiths said.
“They wanted it more and attitude is everything in whatever you do.
“You need the right attitude and we didn’t have that at all.
Twice the Pickers came within a converted try of their opponents, semi-finalists last year who have been struggling to get across the line in 2012.
At 18-12 and 28-22 the Pickers were in with a sniff, but that was as close as they got to clinching the two valuable competition points.
“I thought if we could get back in the armwrestle we would do what we had to do, but they just wanted it more than us,” Griffiths said.
“To be honest, I never felt like we were out of it, but at the same time I never felt like we were in it either.
“We were making up the numbers at times out there.”
The Lions shot out to a 12-0 lead in the opening 10 minutes and increased this advantage to 18 midway though the first half.
Tries to hooker Darcy Etrich and prop Damien Frize, along with Job Patten’s conversions, made it 18-12 at the break.
The hosts went 16 points ahead before tries to Luke Mercer and Brenton Horwood kept the contest alive at 28-22.
But Souths crossed once more and wrapped up the match late in proceedings.
Griffiths said Horwood, Frize and halfback Jade Port were the Pickers best.
In other results from the weekend, Cessnock maintained their unbeaten run with a 24-16 victory in their top-of-the-table clash with Coalfields rivals Kurri Kurri (see story below), Macquarie went to third on the ladder by upstaging Western Suburbs 22-4, Central Newcastle defeated Lakes United 28-20 while Wyong enjoyed their second win of the season with a 46-10 triumph against the last-placed Port Stephens.