It was always going to be a tough ask coming up against an unbeaten Evans River team but the Tenterfield Bumblebees weren’t far off, going down gallantly to the top-of-the-table side.
The Bees were defeated 30-10 but coach Phil Jones said the little things didn’t go his team’s way.
“They are the team to beat but honestly we are not far off the money,” he said.
“None of the penalties went in our favour, we got heavily penalised.
“We didn't get any of the 50-50 calls and then with that we gave them too much ball.
“We had one player in the sin bin, they scored out wide.
“25-10 was the score in the end, I think they wrote it down as 30-10 but the referee had the score as 25-10.
“It was disappointing to lose but it is not disastrous.”
It was the ultimate test for the newcomers to the Far North Coast President’s Cup competition with the Evans River side dominating the tournament over the last couple of seasons.
“They are the benchmark side,” Jones said.
It is definitely not a third grade comp like everyone thought it was going to be. It is a fair bit harder than what we envisaged. It was always going to be hard in the first year, a lot of blokes hadn't played rugby and you are playing against sides where they have played a lot of football.
“I don't think they have lost in a couple of seasons, won the grand final last year and they reckon the team has been together for 10 years.
“They are a good side, they would beat every second grade side in New England.
“It is definitely not a third grade comp like everyone thought it was going to be. It is a fair bit harder than what we envisaged.
“It was always going to be hard in the first year, a lot of blokes hadn't played rugby and you are playing against sides where they have played a lot of football.”
While results in recent fixtures haven’t gone their way, Jones is confident they have the ability to possess a threat to their opponents.
“We were in the game, we are not far off the money but we need to get back into that winning mode,” he said.
“We are not getting beaten by big scores, that is only two tries really. Too many mistakes, we failed to build pressure.”
Jones highlighted the performance of a handful of players.
“Matthew Duff had a very strong game at prop,” he said.
“Nick Lanz had a very good game again. John Rutherford, he played flyhalf, he had a very strong game.”
Jack Thomas and Lachlan Dorward scored five-pointers for the home side in the defeat.
This Saturday the Bees are at Federation Park once against to clash with third-placed Kyogle.
The last time the two teams clashed, the Bees went down 22-20 after a performance filled with ill-discipline.
Jones said the game is an important one with the finals not far away.
“This weekend is a crucial one for us,” he said.
“We have got Kyogle and we must beat them to keep ourselves in the top four.
“We are still sitting in third on points for and against because Kyogle lost on the weekend but we must win this weekend and this decides who is third and fourth.
“We need a big supporter base there.”