SOUTHCITY captain-coach Nick Skinner is convinced the Bulls are closing in on their premiership best following a crushing 42-16 win over Brothers at Equex Centre on Saturday.
Sitting pretty after a near-faultless first half, Southcity virtually coasted home in the second term to hand new Brothers coach Terry Westblade a heavy loss in his debut at the club.
Appointed only six days before the game, Westblade got a tough initiation to the job as Southcity streaked to a 38-0 lead at half-time.
Amid fears of an absolute Bulls blowout, Westblade managed to spark a turnaround in the second half, with the Brethren finishing 16-4 up.
Later Westblade praised the commitment of players including Connor McCauley who did not get a break any stage.
“I’m really pleased with Connor and the rest of you who were out there for the full 80 minutes,” Westblade said.
“It’s such a tough game.”
Taking stock of his opening week at Brothers, Westblade made it clear there will be an emphasis on fitness over the remainder of the season.
As Westblade settles in for the long haul of a challenging position, Skinner can only be thrilled at the way the Bulls are developing.
In a fearsome showing, Southcity produced 40minutes of absolute magic to have the Brethren on toast on halftime.
Often riding on the back of unforced errors from Brothers, the Bulls blasted on seven tries in the first half to romp to a 38-0 advantage.
Although the frenetic scoring pace eased dramatically in the second half, Skinner was hardly complaining.
“I thought the first half, obviously, was very good but we dropped off in the second half,” Skinner said.
“There’s something to work on, but there was also bit of chopping and changing of positions, which didn’t help.”
Southcity made life a complete misery for the Brothers defences in the opening 40 minutes, but the Brethren didn’t help their own cause either.
Poor ball-control and ill discipline handed the Bulls free possession – and they made the most of it.
Powerful centre Usaia O’Sullivan had a field day on the left-hand side, scoring one try and creating two others.
Likewise, Skinner was in his element and jagged a rare double, while fullback Jake Dooley and prop Hayden Jeans were also outstanding.
Despite the landslide result, Skinner said the Bulls were prepared for a pitched battle.
“We knew they (Brothers) would come out hard and we spoke about it during the week,” Skinner said.
“So, we just had to match them for the first 10 minutes ... and we did that.
“Points came on the back of that.”
Skinner was prepared to concede the Bulls had fallen into bad ways in the second half, but he knew the damage had been well and truly done,
“I think when we put our heads on, and knuckle down and do the little things right, I think the points just come off the back of it,” Skinner said.
“We probably went away from that in the second half.
“We started playing a little bit sideways and throwing passes out of our arse.
“But that’s all right, we just have to work to get the full 80 minutes now as the season goes on.”
Faced with Albury at Harris Park next Sunday, Skinner is ready for a more serious test.
“Albury at home will be a tough game,” he said.
“It’ll be a good challenge against them.”
Significantly, Westblade certainly inspired the team with an extended half-time discussion, which Southcity waiting for several minutes on the ground.
Down for the count at the break, Brothers rallied to score three tries in the second half, including two individual efforts to fullback Cade Price.
The sting, however, had gone out of Southcity and the team was just about going through the motions.