The Lower Macleay Magpies were valiant in their 32-30 defeat against the Laurieton Hotel Stingrays.
For the second straight week the Magpies fielded 15 players and disaster struck the side further in the opening set when halfback Michael Flanders was forced off the field with a hamstring injury.
The team played the remaining 79-minutes of the match without their playmaker and with only one substitute.
“Credit to the boys for putting in for the entire game,” co-coach Zac McKiernan said.
“We could have easily threw in the towel early because it was an uphill battle but we dug deep and made them work for the victory.”
McKiernan said the Magpies’ first half performance was the best the side has played in the last few seasons and it lead to them holding an 18-10 advantage at the break.
However, no substitutions played its part on the Magpies in the second half as the side tired.
Holes were opening up in the defence while Magpies players fell off tackles.
It lead to the Stingrays overturning their half-time deficit as they led 32-18 with 10-minutes remaining in the match.
The Magpies kicked back into gear and Ben Wilson and Bo Wilson crossed for consecutive tries to narrow the deficit to two-points.
Lower Macleay had one final attack but unfortunately for the side the Stingrays forced an error as the Magpies suffered consecutive defeats.
McKiernan was impressed with his sides efforts for the majority of the match and is expecting to have close to a full strength side for their meeting with the Long Flat Dragons on the road on Saturday.
“Adam Davies has been one of our best players all season and he really stood out on the weekend for us,” McKiernan said.
“He scored a try in the first half, played the full 80-minutes and was everywhere for us on the field.”
The loss is a setback for the Magpies which sees them drop from the top of the table.
The side won their opening six matches of the season and were sitting on the top of the table but they have since suffered back-to-back losses.
The side holds onto second position on the ladder but McKiernan pinpoints this weekend’s match as an important one.
“We want a home semi-final at the end of the year so we can’t afford to lose three games in a row,” he said.
“Another loss would just take away all the good work we had at the start of the season.”