The Orange United Warriors took a significant step back in their quest for a Wallerawang Landscaping Cup premiership on Saturday night as Kurt Beahan's boys fell to the CSU Mungoes 20-4 under lights at Carrington Park.
The away side shot out of the blocks, crunching the students with shot after shot but it was the premiers who struck the first blow as Blake Schaefer crossed for a try, giving his side a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
While the defeat was one the Warriors took to heart, Beahan knows it's a result that will strengthen his side and give them an idea of the performance they need to have when they clash with contenders in the future.
"Everything happens for a reason and if anything, that loss was probably for the best," Beahan said.
"We know now the level we need to be at to be successful... we know where we need to be."
He's not a man of excuses but Beahan admitted the conditions, as well as other factors, made it hard for the Warriors to perform to their ability.
"75 percent of our team are young fellas and had never played a night game before. They weren't used to the conditions," he said.
"About a quarter of the side is dealing with the loss of an aunt as well... they're out at Walgett for a funeral on Tuesday."
Another thing that plagued the visitors on Saturday was discipline as the second-half sin-binning of centre Chris Jones damaged the side's chances to make a comeback, as did a host of penalties.
"It felt like we were defending for 60% of the match at one stage," he said.
"Our defence was good, we had really good contact but then we'd give away a penalty on the fourth or fifth tackle. We can't afford to give decent sides that much ball.
"We had plenty of opportunities but didn't capitalise. Our winger had a tough day. He dropped a few passes he normally catches that would have been tries."
It's onwards and upwards now for the Warriors as they gear up for a huge round four clash with Oberon and even though Beahan won't be present for that pivotal contest, he's got some decisions to make ahead of it.
"I still haven't found the right combinations," he said.
"I moved our fullback onto the bench and put Mick Newman into half and I think that gave us a lot better direction and we started to break through the line a bit."
In the other round three Wallerawang Landscaping Cup contests, Cargo disposed of Lithgow at their home ground, defeating the Bears 32-0, while Oberon also notched an away win, crushing the Kandos Waratahs 50-6.
United is set to host the ladder-leading Oberon Tigers in round four in what shapes to be a game-of-the year candidate.
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