Second-half resurgence gets Blacks over line

Rugby union

THE Blacks overcame a horror start on Saturday to destroy arch-rivals Leeton in a powerful bonus point victory in front of a bumper crowd at the Coro Club.

Trailing 3-0 at half-time after failing to fire any shots in the first 40 minutes, Griffith's players reset their focus and came out with renewed vigour in the second stanza, scoring all 37 of their points for the day to blow away the Phantoms.

"That's what we can do," coach Seru Rogo said.

"It's just a pity we started that late. 

"It's not good, but it's a learning experience for the team and the coaches. We've just got to be patient."

Former Crusaders star Marika Vunibaka continued his strong start to the Southern Inland season, scoring Griffith's first two tries while elusive back Johnny Brown also crashed over for a double.

Vaea Mateo and Max Ravouvou contributed the other tries, the latter right on the full-time bell.

The scoring avalanche came after an uncharacteristic first-half disaster from the Blacks, which Rogo attributed to the strong crowd in attendance.

"The boys were probably nervous playing and proving themselves in front of the home crowd - there was a big crowd there and that's probably what got into them," Rogo said.

"We were very flat in the first half, took heaps of wrong options, there was heaps of dropped ball. The boys just weren't there.

"I was expecting a good start like we had against Wagga City, but things just changed in front of me.

"But when the second half came, they showed what they have."

Rogo resisted the temptation to change Griffith's structure at the half-time break and that decision paid dividends, with the Blacks more than rewarding his patience.

"We didn't change anything until the last five minutes," he said.

"We just had a good talk at half-time and told them that they've got to start playing like first-graders, and they did.

"But at the end of the day we should be grateful for what the boys did - they got us the bonus point and we took the win, so we'll work from there and move on."

Rogo predicted his forwards would be put to the test against the Phantoms' imposing pack, and they were, passing with flying colours.

"I was really proud of how they handled themselves. My two props are only 18 and 19 years old, and I was very happy with them," he said.

The only sour point was the performance of Fiji international Dan Rawaqa - usually a dead-eye dick in front of goal, he landed just two of six conversions and scored the solitary penalty goal.

However, Rogo said his poor showing was easily explained.

"We had some new match balls since it was our first home game and they probably weren't pumped properly - I could tell from the sidelines, as soon as he kicked it, it wasn't flying the right way," he said.

The Blacks take on Wagga City in Wagga next week.

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