Sunshine Cowboys have been their own worst enemy in the opening three rounds of the NRL Victoria second-grade season.
The Cowboys are 0-3 – with two of those losses coming by a try or less.
Cowboys half-back and playing president Mike Hurinui lamented the games that slipped through his team’s fingers.
“The potential is there, but it’s the little things that are costing us at crucial times,” he said.
“Some missed opportunities in attack have hurt us at vital times.
“I don’t think we’re far away from turning the corner.”
Sunshine’s failure to put the finishing touches on its plays is hurting it big time.
The Cowboys are lacking composure at the back end of their sets, with their backs launching unnecessary passes early in the counts and their forwards having tunnel vision close to the line.
Hurinui wants to see his forwards and backs connect better when they get near the try line.
“The forwards are a little bit hungry close to the line,” he said. “They’re thinking they can take those last metres. We’ve got speed to burn at the back … our backs are trying to score from so far out.
“They have that urgency to score on that play instead of setting it up.
“Sometimes these passes are 50-50 or coming early in the tackle count.
“I really think if we learnt to hold our position a bit better, we’d end up walking the ball over the line rather than trying to run it from so far out.”
The slight disconnect between Sunshine’s backs and forwards comes through a lack of experience playing together.
A high turnover of players in the off season dictates that it will take time for the team to gel.
Hurinui has been encouraged by the progress and can see a win coming around the
“We’ve got a lot of new players amongst our core this year, some in crucial positions,” Hurinui said.
“It’s a little bit of patience needed, I guess.
“We’re not far off gelling – we’re improving in some areas of the game and it’s just getting that first win to get that confidence.”
The standouts for Sunshine so far have been second rowers Swayn Rakete and Harley
No matter if the Cowboys are on defence or attack, these two are involved more often than not.
“They’re making a big difference on both sides of the ruck,” Hurinui said.
“It’s their work ethic in both areas.
“They’re both willing to lead our line-up in defence and always there carting the ball forward in every set of six.”
The return of full-back Lawrence Fernandes has made a difference for Sunshine.
Fernandes is so good at retrieving the kicks and defending one-on-one.
“It’s a crucial position because you know if they break the line, you’ve only got one bloke back there,” Hurinui said.
“He’s pretty trustworthy and if it’s one-on-one he’ll make the tackle most times.”
Sunshine, captain-coached by Rikki Mackey, will hit the road to face the Eastern Raptors in the fourth round on Saturday.