Maitland coach Luke Dorn has warned his players that unless they can stay in games for the full 80 minutes they will be nothing more than also rans this season.
The Pickers can make amends for last week's inexplicable 40-26 loss to Lakes United after leading 26-6 when they take on South Newcastle at Townson Oval on Saturday.
"We are a 60 minute team at the moment. and in this competition if you don't stay focused for the entire 80 minutes you will get smashed as we have been at times this season," Dorn said.
"The most frustrating thing is that we have shown throughout games that we have the ability to be genuine contenders.
"Our best footy is good enough to win this competition.
Our best footy is good enough to win this competition.Luke Dorn
"But we seem only capable of producing our best for 60 minutes. We lose concentration and focus and then we end up with teams getting a roll on against us and scoring plenty of points."
The latest to take advantage of the Pickers lapse in concentration was Lakes United who turned a 26-6 deficit just before half-time into a 40-26 victory with 34 unanswered points.
"In some respects it would have been easier to cope with if we smashed by 40 points from the start," Dorn said.
"At least we could look at each other and know that we were not good enough.
"But we had the game in our control and then just let it completely slip. It is so frustrating.
"We had gone from a position of being able to collect two important points and reducing our for and against to losing a match we should have won."
Dorn said the Pickers had probably only stayed in a game for the full 80 minute twice this season - in their under-manned winning efforts against Cessnock and Macquarie Scorpions.
He said Maitland's losses all came down to the same factor - costly 15-20 minute lapses in concentration.
"It's not about skill, it's not about tactics, it's not even about effort as we have matched teams and beaten them for large portions of games," he said.
"Our problem is our inability to concentrate for the full 80 minutes. When fatigue comes into play we drop off our intensity and ability to stay in the now."
Dorn said he would not be surprised if the Pickers lifted to defeat the second-placed Souths on Saturday.
"We have the ability to beat every team in this competition and with six rounds remaining we have to start doing that, otherwise we're just making up the numbers," he said.
"We need to produce for 80 minutes, that's me as coach and the players or we are destined to be also rans.
"You are going to make errors during games. We've only played two games when we have stayed in the now sufficient enough to acknowledge that. but then return to our game plan and our priorities."