The Maitland Pickers clocked up 13 second-half errors to blow any chance of victory against second placed South Newcastle at a wind-swept Townson Oval on Saturday.
But despite dropping the ball nine times, four times in try-scoring positions, the Pickers did regain the spirit missing in last week's second-half capitulation to Lakes and along with it the faith of their fans.
"Last week was depressing, this week was just a really frustrating performance because I thought we were good enough to win," Pickers coach Luke Dorn said of the 24-16 result.
"I thought we gave ourselves a really good opportunity to win, but we weren't smart enough and made too many errors.
"We dropped two kick offs, had nine drop balls and two forward passes in the second half.
"Good luck winning a game like that."
The Pickers had plenty of good performers with co-skipper Sam Anderson playing almost the entire 80 minutes in his return from a fractured foot and fullback Greg Morris outstanding in tricky conditions under the high ball.
Back-rowers Tylar Carter and joint skipper Brenton Horwood were both strong and played long minutes and Geordie Connelly and Frazer Pricer were damaging with their running game particularly in the first half.
Hayden Grainger and Jarrod Smith's partnership at dummyhalf if also prospering.
"Our effort was undeniable, we tried as hard as we possibly could today, which wasn't the case particularly in the second half last week.
"Unfortunately, we just didn't back our effort up with the good thinking.
"Souths proved a better team in terms of physicality, game management and smarts, unfortunately."
Dorn said the Pickers were well place at 12-all at half-time but failed to use the wind to their advantage in the second half.
"It was a really challenging wind in that first half and while I'm not a really big believer in the wind being worth x-amount of points - at 12-all at half-time I was very pleased because we worked hard.
"I thought more than having points in it, having the wind in the second half gave us the opportunity to control the half but we did not use it at all to control the game.
"If we had have been able to kick it long into a corner and make them come out from deep it would have built pressure.
"But we didn't do that, we allowed them too many metres in returning the ball and there was no pressure on their kicking game against the wind.
"We might as well have had no wind. We only got to the fifth tackle twice and didn't kick it either time.
"We were very reactive, we didn't build pressure."