AFTER watching his team secure a bonus-point win over Nambour on a rain-soaked University Field, Barbarians coach Peter Lau’ese said his side had to become stronger in the opening exchanges.
Despite the crucial 34-7 win, the University mentor conceded his men were outplayed by the Toads in the first 20 minutes of the Wartung Premiership clash, adding that was a luxury they could not afford come finals time.
“I thought Nambour dominated that first 20 minutes and the boys struggled to get into the game,” he said.
“We didn’t execute what we said we would do in the first 20.
“That is something we’ve got to improve on coming into what we call the business end of the season for us. We’re just quietly moving forward.
“We’re under no pressure in terms of what’s happening at the top of the table and that’s way we like it.”
While they might not have lived up their coach’s expectations early, the Barbarians were the first to score through a Luke Bridley penalty before Justin Laing crossed for the first of his two tries soon after. The Uni speedster won the race to a loose ball in Toads territory before putting it on the toe again to dive over and hand his side an 8-0 lead.
The Toads hit back when inside-centre Sean Dixon hit the line at pace and crossed, but the Uni-versity backs continued to threaten with some hard-running through the middle channel.
It was Bridley who eventually reaped the reward when he crossed to give his side a 13-7 lead at half-time.
“One of our goals was to set up in the midfield, but we weren’t really getting the support from our forwards at the breakdowns,” Lau’ese said.
“But I thought our midfield were quite tight for us.”
The injection of the experienced Terii Rahui paid dividends for the home side after the break, when the replacement flyhalf executed his coach’s game plan perfectly with a pinpoint kicking game.
The Barbarians scored twice as Rahui peppered the right-hand corner of the field, and Bridley continued his good day with the boot to convert both.
“I think that level-headedness is something we have been lacking at crucial times in certain games this season,” Lau’ese said.
“That puddle in the corner is where we stood at half-time and I said that is where we will play all second half and he did really well.”
He also praised flanker Josh Roberts for his dominance at the breakdown and the Laing brothers, who were in everything.
“It was an important win for us,” Lau’ese said.
“Nambour is one of those teams who have been slow improvers and I rate their forwards. I thought that is where they would give it to us today.”
By Matt Johnston
(J Laing 2, J Roberts, L Bridley, G Pegrum tries; Bridley 3 cons, 1 pen)
(S Dixon try; W Evans con)
Other results: Maroochydore 32 def Fraser Coast 15; Noosa 18 def Caboolture 17