Blacks end pre-season with "reality check"

Rugby union

THE Blacks will head into Saturday's Southern Inland Rugby Union season opener against Tumut at the Coro Club with their feet firmly planted on the ground after a much-needed "reality check" in Wagga on the weekend.

A depleted Griffith outfit was defeated 14-7 by the Albury Steamers and then 17-7 by the Wagga Waratahs in the club's final pre-season assignments.

With most of the Blacks' forwards unavailable due to work or family commitments, coach Seru Rogo cobbled together a makeshift side for the triangular tournament at Connolly Rugby Park - and while his men were outclassed by two of SIRU's big guns, they weren't ashamed.

Albury's two tries came off direct Griffith mistakes while the Blacks went into their first match with a second-row made up entirely of bigger-bodied backs who stepped up out of necessity.

"We could have won that game if we didn't make those silly mistakes. Apart from that we gave them a really good hit-out," Rogo said.

The gap was a little wider against the Waratahs and much of the first stanza was spent in Griffith's defensive half, with the Wagga outfit going over twice and keeping the Blacks quiet.

"They look like a really good, well-drilled side from the off-season," Rogo said.

"It's good to get a reality check playing against the big teams in our last two trial matches.

"I was still trying out positions for some of the boys but it was a good weekend overall."

Griffith was scheduled to face Wagga City but that side pulled out of the tournament at the eleventh hour.

All is now in readiness for Saturday's clash with Tumut, with Rogo's first 15 all but picked and ready to be announced at training on Tuesday night.

"It's all looking good," Rogo said.

"Everyone's looking forward to it, especially the senior boys, and we're all looking forward to giving Tumut a good run."

However, Rogo confirmed that star recruit Dan Rawaqa will not play for the first two weeks of the season.

The former Parramatta Two Blues point-machine is still recovering from a broken nose he suffered playing rugby sevens in Fiji earlier this year.

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