"That wasn't us".
That was Ōtūmoetai Eels captain Dan Holmes' summation of his side's performance in a 46-0 loss to Taniwharau on Saturday.
Despite the hammering in the Waikato Rugby League major semifinal in Hamilton, the competition format allows Ōtūmoetai a reprieve and this week they will take on College Old Boys, who beat Ngaruawahia Panthers in the minor semifinal. The winner will earn a spot in the grand final against Taniwharau.
Holmes said his side did not show up on Saturday.
"That was one of our worst performances. Now it is getting back to the drawing board and working on our defence and getting some physicality in there. This team can definitely bounce back."
He said when Ōtūmoetai take on College Old Boys, who they drew 24-all with in the regular season, they will need to work them in the tackle.
Taniwharau have been the dominant force in the competition this year, conceding on average less than 10 points per game. They also went into the playoffs rested. There were no competition games due to rep fixtures three weeks ago, the had the bye in the final round of the regular season and earned bye in the first week of the playoffs as top qualifier.
Ōtūmoetai coach Grant Sundborn said the changing room was a quiet place after Saturday's game and the benefit of Taniwharau's rest was evident.
"We got schooled and we were flat, it is no excuse but we are a better team than that. By comparison we looked like we had no sleep and they looked fresh and sharp. It is a cliché but full credit to them. We have a lot to work on."
Ōtūmoetai's woes were compounded by injuries but Sundborn said there were positives to take into this week.
"We didn't give up, we will work on what went wrong, once you start piling on points you get confidence and they beat us in every facet of the game. We need to work on not letting them up quickly and slowing down that play of the ball. We will move on and be up for the next game."
College Old Boys earned their place in the sudden death semifinal after a thrilling win over the Panthers. They were down 18-2 at halftime before coming back to win 26-24.
Waikato Rugby League sudden-death semifinal
Who: Ōtūmoetai v College Old Boys
When: Saturday, August 3, 3pm kickoff