By Simon Rushworth
Wed 26th Oct 2011 : 10:16
Beaten but unbowed Andy Buist is continuing to back his battle weary troops after a record-breaking defeat rocked Team Northumbria.
Hosts Percy Park eased to a 67-15 North One East win to leave the men in black marooned near the foot of the table.
But Buist – fighting a front row crisis which has now stripped TN of four potential starters – insists his fledgling side IS improving.
“Percy Park were a better team than us and we can’t argue with that,” said the former Newcastle Falcon.
“They’re a very well drilled outfit and made the playoffs last season.
“We knew what was to come and yet for the first 20 minutes I was really pleased with what I saw.
“At half-time I told the lads that the penalty and try we scored early on showed what we were capable of.
“We got good early ball and looked really fluent. We caused them problems but then things started to unravel.”
TN stunned their hosts to take an 8-5 lead on the back of a darting run and touchdown from livewire winger Cameron Kay.
But within half an hour Percy Park were 34-8 ahead as flanker Greg Dixon ran riot.
The loose forward went on to score four tries as Park’s pack dominated the forward battle.
And Buist was left frustrated as his talented back line was systematically starved of any meaningful ball.
“We lost three front rowers in the BUCS game on Wednesday and went into the game with a lighter pack,” he added.
“That problem was compounded when our hooker Matt Lennox was forced off just before the break.
“And from that point onwards Percy Park really dominated in the forwards.
“I’m not having s go at my lads because some of them are straight out of school.
“But that’s a problem we’re going to have at this level – especially when we pick up so many injuries in one key area.”
With a makeshift TN front row struggling to make an impression after the break Park continued to win the greater share of possession.
And a fabulous Ollie Smith breakaway try from inside his own half was the only moment of respite for Buist’s embattled troops.
“Ollie played out of his skin and I wish we had more players like him to call upon,” admitted TN’s head coach.
“He missed the BUCS game on Wednesday because he had to attend his grandfather’s funeral and I wasn’t sure whether he’d be up for this one.
“But I texted him before the game and he assured me he was available and ready.
“He showed the utmost commitment and he has a very professional attitude.
“There are a few more like Ollie at the club but I’d love to have even more.”
TN eventually leaked 10 tries to incur the heaviest reverse in their National League history.
And without experienced Samoan international Lome Fa’atau for the next fortnight things aren’t going to get any easier for struggling TN.
“If we weren’t showing definite signs of improvement then I would be finding this difficult,” added Buist.
“But the lads are learning – all we lack is a bit of muscle and experience up front.”
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