The desire was there but errors cost Maitland Blacks a win on their 140th anniversary celebration day.
The Waratahs made the Blacks pay dearly for dropped ball and other errors running in four tries in a 20 minutes period either side of half-time as Maitland went down fighting in a 33-39 loss.
The writing was on the wall early that it wasn’t going to be Maitland’s day conceding two penalties and having Sapati Peniata sin-binned within three minutes in his first game against his old side at Waratah Oval on Saturday.
Blacks co-coach Ryan McCormack said the team would learn lessons from the loss, but it was a game probably best forgotten.
“You could see the look on the boys’ faces when they came off the ground. They felt bitterly disappointed that they couldn’t come up with a win on such a big night for the club,” he said.
“In the end errors cost us and to their credit The Waratahs were able to capitalise on them. They made us pay in a 20-minute period either side of the half-time.
“Apart from that 20 minutes we probably had the better of the game.
“Waratahs probably had a fair bit of motivation with Sap and Junior (Poloai) having their first game against them after crossing to us.
“They went through a fair bit of turmoil with players leaving before the start of the season and to have come back and performed the way they have this season is an incredible effort.”
McCormack said The Waratahs had been a bogey side for the Blacks, particularly at Waratah Oval.
“I’ve been involved with first grade since 2012. We won there that year but haven’t had a win away to them since,” he said.
McCormack said the Blacks would need to address the errors, but the effort particularly in coming back from a big deficit soon after half-time was a testament to the group’s effort and commitment to one another.
“We managed to get the maximum two points from the loss and every point is going to be crucial this year as the competition is so even.
“I thought Travis Brooke and Jye Estatheo had terrific games for us along with Rhys Clacherty,” he said.
“They just never gave in and led the way for us in the come back.
“Rhys just keeps on improving every week and does everything asked of him.
“I played with him in third grade last year and suggested to him that the five-eighth position was available in first grade if he wanted to step up.
“He committed to giving it a go and trained so hard in the off-season. He just soaks up every bit of advice and direction we give him. It’s an attitude that is developing right through the club.”
Maitland: Tries: Jye Estatheo 2; Travis Brooke 1; Jono O'Toole 1; Jono Maloney 1
Conversions: Jye Estatheo 4