IT WAS always going to be a tough assignment for Lower Clarence against Evans Head at Stan Payne Oval on Saturday.
The Magpies not only had to adapt to the atrocious playing conditions, they had to deal with the emotion and grief after one of their trainer's daughters died tragically as a result of a road accident during the week.
The Bombers ended up running out winners 50-8 but questions should be raised over why the game went ahead when other matches were called off because of the wet conditions.
"It hasn't been the best of weeks, especially with the tragic news we received, which has rocked the whole team," Magpies coach Grant Brown said.
"The conditions at Evans were absolutely appalling. It was a mud bath. But in saying that, the boys didn't turn up to play. We didn't play to the conditions and paid the price.
"Our best sets were five minutes before the break and the last 10 minutes in the second half. It just wasn't good enough."
Evans Head is renowned for relying heavily on its monster forward pack and with little flair to call on out wide it relished playing in the sodden conditions.
The Bombers forwards poured through the Magpies' in the middle third of the park, with the pliable visitors' defence under the pump for most of the game.
"If you can get over the grind in the first 15 minutes and don't let their forwards dominate you can beat them," Brown said.
"But once they get their tails up they're a hard team to beat.
"They had some good go-forward and have scored a nice halfback in Leon Kelly, who was great on the day."
Brown singled out prop Curtis Laurie and back-rower Jackson Lucas as his team's best.
"Curtis and Jackson were both standouts and went forward all day," he said.
It's been a slow start to the season for Lower, which will have firmed for the wooden spoon.
Consistency can be an elusive commodity for young teams and the Magpies need to get a win under their belt before they come up against some of the more-fancied teams in the competition.
The Magpies will be hoping to notch their first win of the season when they face Casino next week.
Brown has put his players on notice to perform before their season slips away.
"We're away again on the weekend and after our performance against Evans we'll be having three training sessions during the week and they're all compulsory," he said.
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