Alarm bells ring after 61-29 hiding
The tackling bags will be out at South Canterbury practice this week after a record 61-29 loss to Mid Canterbury in the Heartland preseason hit-out in Ashburton.
Mid Canterbury were too slick and with four preseason games under their belt, including a Ranfurly Shield challenge and an upset win over Southland, were always favourites.
It was the way South Canterbury succumbed was the problem and coach Chester Scott has a fortnight to turn it around.
South Canterbury were good in the set pieces with a solid scrum and lineout that pinched four Mid Canterbury throws, but that was about it.
Their defence was at times woeful with four of Mid Canterbury try scorers dotting down untouched.
Mid Canterbury managed to punch holes around the rucks and mauls and also through the midfield, and at other times the gaps were welcoming as South Canterbury's organisation on defence went missing.
Also when they did have the ball, simple errors handed it back.
South Canterbury at times showed some flair, with two tries to props Timaru Tafa and Matt Fetu after good buildups, while the final two came late in the game after Mid Canterbury had emptied their bench, and at one stage were a man down.
Scott admitted the performance was below par but believed there were a couple of simply fixes.
"Our organisation was poor and that left too many gaps.
"We were also too slow in reacting and didn't adjust well enough from club rugby to Heartland."
Scott was confident there would be a turnaround in the side before they took on Wanganui in the season opener at Alpine Energy Stadium on August 23.
For Mid Canterbury first five Murray Williams, one of two loan players, was a maestro, directing play, perfect passing and clever kicking.
He also landed eight of nine conversion attempts.
Mid Canterbury's standout however was their nuggety open side Gary Redmond who continually busted open South Canterbury's defence, scoring the first try after beating three tacklers and setting up the second to fellow loosie Sam Houston with less than 10 minutes gone.
They kept the momentum up and were ahead 42-17 at the break.
South Canterbury did have periods when they fought back and closed the gap to 14-10 at one stage, but then fell off tackles again.
Mid Canterbury's other loan player, Dwayne Burrows also impressed scoring two tries while captain Jon Dampney also had a big game.
For South Canterbury, the front row went well with Tafa, Fetu and Ben Hewitson getting the upper hand, while veteran Sione Tauelangi dominated the line-out.
The loose forwards however struggled to foot it with their opposites, who were much hungrier and carried the ball with real purpose.
The South Canterbury backline were guilty of dropping the ball too often and simply handing it back, while the defence was disorganised.
To their credit South Canterbury did hang in at the end with tries to replacement Doug Hill and captain Nick Strachan.
Replacement halfback Josh Rooney tried hard in difficult situation and the way the game went it was hard to judge whether possible loan player Angus Compton-Bowyer, the English first five from Hawke's Bay, is worth the punt.
Scott has still had no luck in confirming any of the three loan players or a "player of origin".
Six he had in his sights were all named on the Canterbury Metro side, and with the union deciding there is no cash to spend, it could be a tough task to land anyone of real value.
- The Timaru Herald
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