WAGGA Heat will lick their wounds after putting the final touches on a brutal draw to start the season with an 86-56 loss at Shoalhaven on Saturday afternoon.
The Heat are now 1-4 through the first five games, but four of them have been on the road and they were big underdogs against the unbeaten Tigers.
With skipper and centre Eddie Merkel (18 points) leading the way, the Heat matched it with the Tigers in the opening term to trail just 22-18 at quarter time.
But some crucial lapses, especially in the second and fourth quarters, ensured Shoalhaven cruised to a comfortable win.
The Heat have next weekend off before they enjoy back-to-back home games over the following fortnight.
Player-coach Zac Maloney said consistency throughout games was always going to be an issue with a young side.
"We showed patches and the trend we have with this team is we have periods of excellence, then follow it up with real rough patches," he said.
"It's about trying to put all that together a bit better. In our good patches we show we can play with any other team in the comp.
"In the first quarter we stuck with them and did all the dirty work like rebounding and good defence. But in the second quarter that went out the window a bit, we tried to play too much 'iso ball' and tried to do it all ourselves.
"During the third quarter we started to look good but in the fourth quarter the score blew out, our heads dropped and it started to become an attitude issue.
"We have these patches that show we can play really well, but we have to put that together a bit longer and limit our rough patches."
Maloney said Merkel took advantage of an undersized Tigers well in the paint.
"He saw an opportunity to be able to have an impact on the game, and we got him a lot of touches," he said.
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