The Bond Store match of the week between Takuvaine Reds and Tupapa Panthers on Saturday at the Happy Valley Field failed to live up to expectations as players from both sides struggled to keep up with play.
The slippery conditions could have been a factor, but players looked exhausted and their lethargic play killed the excitement set by some superb runs in the opening spell.
Panthers came from behind to win the match 30-18, while in the other Senior A clash, Avatiu Nikao Eels overcame Arorangi Cowboys 15-0 at The Swamp.
Reds coach Vase Samania said he was not surprised by the loss, adding that the attendance at training in the lead-up to the match was really poor.
“I guess the boys have been having too much holiday. I just managed to get the full team (on game day) and tried to put a team together to play against the Panthers,” Samania said.
“It’s not going to work this way and that showed in the second half when fatigue kicked in.”
With the first match out of the way, Samania said they would regroup and work on getting their priorities right to put on a better performance for the remainder of the season.
“I guess with the first game out of the way, we need to focus on basic stuff, change the mindset of these boys to turn up to training, and work on the weaknesses we saw in the opening game.
“Hopefully the changes we want to bring will come along the way.”
Panthers coach Darren Piri said they still have a lot to work on, despite the win against the former champion Reds team.
He also said poor attendance at training was one of their biggest concerns.
“It was a bit of a messy game. It is the first game of the season and the first time for some of the boys who turned up to join the team without any training in the lead-up to the match,” Piri said.
“We will just take it week by week and see how we go from there.”
Piri also downplayed any suggestion that the club was going for a clean sweep after earlier winning the domestic rugby league title.
“The aim is to play well. We can’t say we want to win the whole season when we haven’t been training together, but after next week we could know where we stand.”