A slow start to the contest was the Macleay Valley Mustangs’ downfall in their 30-22 loss against the Taree City Bulls on Saturday.
It marked a disappointing start to the Group Three Rugby League season for the Mustangs, who trailed 18-0 in the first 20-minutes.
The Mustangs shot themselves in the foot as they gifted the Bulls possession and territory as they committed silly penalties and errors inside their own half.
However, the Mustangs were able to get back to within striking distance as they crossed for two tries prior to half-time.
Macleay Valley continued to mount pressure on their opponents but the Bulls’ defence was up to the task.
The Bulls laid on two more tries to extend their lead and despite the Mustangs closing the deficit towards the end of the match, their poor start to the game cost them the chance of victory.
Earlier in the day, the Mustangs drew 20-20 in reserve grade, earned a comfortable 35-18 victory in the Under-18.5 competition and the Ladies League Tag lost a tight battle 18-14.
Mustangs president Tim Moorehead said the first grade side was missing key players for various reasons and there is still plenty of improvement to be made.
“They weren’t at full strength and a few players were playing out of position,” Moorehead said.
“The Bulls got out to an early lead but the boys really clicked into gear after that and got back within a try.
“They were on top in the second half but then lapsed for a period and the Bulls took advantage.”
Despite losing three of their four games, Moorehead said it was a extremely positive home game experience.
“It was really good, there was a great atmosphere and there was a good vibe in the crowd,” Moorehead told the Argus.
“This year we have partnered with Ready Mob, an organisation that does plenty of positive things for the youth, and on Saturday they had a jumping castle and prizes and they will be at all of our home games with more activities to be held at upcoming games.”
In the other Group Three Rugby League first grade games, the defending champions the Port City Breakers overturned an early 16-0 lead to win 34-26.
The Old Bar Beach Pirates defeated the Wauchope Blues 28-14 and the Wingham Tigers cruised to a 36-4 win over the Forster-Tuncurry Hawks.
The Mustangs are back in action on the road next Sunday against the Port Macquarie Sharks at 3pm.
Macleay Valley faced the Sharks in the pre-season and suffered a 34-12 defeat.