Western Rams under 18s coach Kurt Hancock has urged his players to forget about footy for a few days after a testing match against Monaro in the Laurie Daley Cup on Sunday.
While the Rams weren't at their best in the fourth round match there was still a sense of disappointment at full-time after a late Monaro try resulted in a 22-all draw.
The result means both the Rams and Monaro remain unbeaten and both sides are one point ahead of the Greater Northern Tigers with just one round remaining.
The Rams make the long trek to Tamworth later this week for a crucial meeting with the Tigers and with that match coming after a string of physical contests, Hancock wants his players to take some time to refresh.
"In hindsight, Monaro probably had the better of the running and to be in front with a few minutes to go and get one (try) on you is disappointing but the positive is we've got plenty of improvement in us," Hancock said.
"We were a bit off and it's just about freshening up the boys and switching off for a few days before a long trip to take on a tough Tigers team.
"We've got a short turnaround so they need a couple days away from footy and maybe not train locally and just freshen up mentally and physically."
Despite a somewhat patchy performance on Sunday, the Rams still managed to build a 16-10 lead at half-time after a double to fleet-footed Forbes winger Darcy Leadbitter and a try for Mitchell Cleary.
The Colts hit back early in the second half and levelled the scores up but during a period where the Rams played their best footy a lovely ball back against the angle found Dubbo CYMS' Zac Williams, who sliced through to cross.
Braye Porter's conversion had the visitors in front by six again but a couple of errors crept into the Rams game, with winger Nathan Walker being bundled into touch for a third time in the match while Porter also spilled a fifth tackle bomb.
Monaro built some momentum and in the final two minutes Jayde Howard threw a dummy, split threw the Rams defence and raced away to score and the ensuring conversion meant the points were shared.
"I'm pretty sure our completion rate was below 70 per cent and theirs was in the high 70s," Hancock said.
"Our attack was a little off on Friday at training and we were a bit flat. These boys have been up for awhile now and this was probably the test we needed.
"We learnt a valuable lesson. You can't be off at this level. It's a quick leveller if you're not 100 per cent into it."
There were changes in the lineup on Sunday as injury to Sam Lane resulted in Porter shifting from the halves to fullback and Jamie Thorpe wearing the number six jersey while Matt Noakes made his first appearance of the season after overcoming injury.
Noakes could miss the Tigers game due to another injury though but prop Mana Dermott will be a welcome addition after the Wellington junior rolled his ankle prior to the Rams' first game this season.
There could also be more changes in the Rams under 16s side following another loss on Sunday.
The Tony Woolnough-coached outfit produced another performance riddled with errors and suffered a 14-0 defeat to Monaro.
The defeat means the Rams now can't make finals and will play for pride against the winless Northern Tigers on Saturday.
"I think if there's one lesson to take from this under 16s, they're all good players in their own rights but, I think, they've got to knuckle down on the basics," Hancock said.
"Once you get to this level or higher your basics have to be the centrepiece.
"They're finding it hard to transfer those skills into the game and that's been letting them down."
Both Rams side will travel to Tamworth on Friday ahead of the final round games against the Tigers.
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