Nottingham Outlaws entertained Cutsyke Raiders at Lenton Lane on Saturday desperate to bring an end a seven match losing streak. Despite a much improved performance they were always chasing the game and slipped to yet another defeat, losing out by 32-16 to their Yorkshire rivals.
Once again the squad was hit hard by injury and Covid withdrawals including player coach Adam Cunliffe who was forced to isolate from the team which opened up the way for Gaz Whitfield to return at fullback. The backline was completely rejigged from the one that took to the field at York last weekend with Coryn Ward and Sailosi Wakawaka pairing up in the centres for the first time with wingers Kenny Wilson and Will Allen on debut.
If the Outlaws where to get anything from the game it was vital that they got off to a better start than they have in recent weeks. However it was very much a case of deja vu, the Outlaws yet again leaking a try in the first two minutes to find themselves once more playing catch up as they trailed 4-0.
Despite the early reversal the Outlaws hit back almost straight away, pounding the Cutsyke line with a series of attacks that should have yielded points but as has often been the case this season, they could not engineer a score despite a strong twenty minute spell that was played almost exclusively in and around the Cutske red zone.
Despite such dominance the Outlaws had failed to get over the whitewash and they were made to pay when a couple of rare Cutsyke attacks instantly yielded two trys for the visitors who gave a quick masterclass on how to finish!
The Outlaws headed into the break trailing 12-0 but still very much in the game and with Abe Sua and Joe Raine coming off the bench to give some fire power to the pack the home supporters remained in hopeful mood after a much better first half performance than in recent weeks.
The Outlaws needed to get the first score after the break if they were to have any chance of getting something out of the game but yet again they were punished for another poor start to a half, leaking three trys in a disastrous ten minute spell that saw them drift out to 28-0 in arrears with half an hour still to play.
Despite the game slipping away the Outlaws finally began to make some inroads into the Cutsyke defence and they finally got on the board when Sam Dennison broke clear to feed Sailosi Wakawaka who scooted under the sticks to reduce the visitors lead to 28-4.
The Outlaws’ try seemed to breathe new life into what had been a somewhat toothless attack up to that point and they began to once more dominate field position and possession.
The Outlaws attacks were led by loose forward Alex Whittle who was having his best game of the season so far and as the visitors defence tired the long striding number thirteen scored two superb trys. The first was a trademark show and go that outfoxed the Cutske defence and the second came from a superbly weighted kick into the in goal that Whittle started and finished with a great pick up and touch down to notch an excellent brace.
Gaz Whitfield added the extras to reduce the deficit to 28-16.
With five minutes left on the clock there was little chance of the Outlaws getting within reach of the Cutske score and any hopes of an unlikely revival were soon cut short when Cutsyke collected the ball from the kick off and duly posted a try to close out the game at 32-16
Despite yet another defeat there were more positives to take out of the game than in recent weeks. There were encouraging performances from a number of players in this new look Outlaws squad, including a great stint by man of the match Ronan Treble who was the pick of an Outlaws pack that worked much better as a defensive unit than they have in recent weeks.
Next week the Outlaws entertain Queensbury at Lenton Lane in a match that looks eminently winnable if they can continue to improve and some of the missing bodies return to the fold!