Slow start costs Stockmen against resolute Magpies

“A win.” 

This was the response from Goulburn coach John Sykes when asked what he expected from Friday night’s Katrina Fanning Shield clash between the Stockmen and the Yass Magpies. 

Break free: Jess Howard makes a run for the tryline during Friday night's clash between the Magpies and the Stockmen.

Break free: Jess Howard makes a run for the tryline during Friday night's clash between the Magpies and the Stockmen.

He was ultimately disappointed, as the Magpies ended up winning the encounter 30-14 at Walker Park. 

But Sykes was utterly confident that his team had what it took to beat the top-of-the-table side. 

“We’re down on troops, but I still expected to win with the team we had,” he said. 

The problem, in Sykes’ view, was the time it took for the Stockmen to find their way into the match mentally. 

“We started slowly. They’re a team that responds too; the harder it is the better they go,” Sykes said. 

“They went out there in the first half and they probably thought ‘we’ll get it’, then [Yass] put two or three quick ones on us and we’re in trouble.

“It’s pretty hard to claw it back.”

The time that it took Goulburn to get into the match was invaluable. After leading the first half 26-0, the Magpies only scored four more points in the second, to Goulburn’s 14. 

While the focus for Sykes will be getting his team to switch on early in matches, Yass co-coach Josh Hardy is looking to diminish his side’s late-match lapses. 

“Second half was pretty scrappy, but [it’s] gonna happen, wet conditions, the girls strayed away from what we’ve been doing at training,” Hardy said. 

But he did praise the defensive skills shown by his side, which were particularly evident in the first half. 

“They defended quite well until the last five or so minutes,” Hardy said. 

“Our defense has been massive, the first two months of training we’ve been doing lots and lots of tackling, and it’s come out with some of the scorelines that we’ve had in the past three weeks.

“Lots of positives to take out of [the match], Goulburn’s an awesome team.”

The victory for the Magpies means that they remain atop the ladder, while Goulburn now sits in fifth with two losses and a bye from three rounds this year. 

The Stockmen will take on the Queanbeyan Kangaroos next weekend, and Yass will play Tuggeranong.

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