Pickers and Goannas defensive flaws mount up in 36-all draw

ATTACKING FLAIR: Pickers half Zebastian Luisi takes the ball to line before passing against the Cessnock Goannas. Photo: MARINA NEIL
ATTACKING FLAIR: Pickers half Zebastian Luisi takes the ball to line before passing against the Cessnock Goannas. Photo: MARINA NEIL

On a day more suited to being at the beach, the Maitland Pickers and Cessnock Goannas piled on the points to finish in a 36-all draw.

But both coaches left Maitland Sportsground on Saturday with big question marks over their team’s defences two weeks out from the start of the Newcastle Rugby League season.

Goannas coach Dan Smailes likened the scoreline to an under 20s match, with a lot of attacking moves but plenty of defensive flaws.

His Pickers counterpart Trevor Ott was more generous saying that conceding 36 points was not going to stack up once the season starts.

But Ott did have the benefit of a 44-0 win in reserve grade and the knowledge his defensive combinations are only going to strengthen with more time on the field together.

A real positive for the Pickers was the form of utility back Steve Waetford in his first trial game this season, along with Knights under-20 forward Cameron King who came to the club from the Parramatta Eels.

“Cameron King was really good up front and that helps us compete with some of the bigger sides,” Ott said.

“I won’t get too carried away as (conceding) 36 points isn’t going to cut the mustard week in week out in the Newcastle comp.

“We’re still working on combinations. I won’t say I’ll be fully prepared for round one. As a football club we’ve got to make small steps, but for me it’s positive we’ve got some good players here that we can build on.”

“When you look at us we’ve got a few young guys in the mix who are becoming week in week out first graders and with the experience we’ve got we can only grow as a team.”

Ott said the team’s tries came from strong running taking on the line.

“We made some good yards but all of a sudden we forgot to go forward. We started to go very lateral and once we did that we paused and got bundled over the sideline,” he said.

“When we rolled up our sleeves I thought we could more than match them. I thought we got some dominance.”

Smailes said the Goannas defensive effort was disgraceful at times, but the team showed its potency in attack at stages.

“I think it was a scoreline like an under 20s game that’s the first 36-all draw I’ve ever been involved in,” he said.

“It was poor to be honest with you. Our attack was good in patches but the defensive misses were disgraceful really.

“They scored two tries off their first two sets and they ran through us off kick offs twice and made 60 metres that sums up our defence today.

“They did some good stuff with the footy, don’t get me wrong for a second, but you can’t do it off the back of defence like that.

“It’s too tiring and too mentally draining.”


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