FRUSTRATED coach Scott Coleman struggled to find any positives after the Hunter Wildfires were out-gunned 50-15 by a rampant Warringah at No.2 Sportsground on Saturday.
The Wildfires had no answers to the guile of fly-half Ben Marr and the speed of the Rats' outside backs in the eight-try-to-three romp.
The rangy playmaker toyed with the home side before succumbing to a rib injury in the 55th minute. By that stage the visitors were in total control, leading 36-10.
Marr scored a try with a classic show-and-go and played a hand in three others.
When the flashy No.10 wasn't mesmerising the defence, their wingers were wreaking havoc on the edges.
Charlie Tupu produced some Fred Estaire footwork to leave three defenders clutching at air for a try and set up another with a 50 metre burst down the touchline.
On the other touchline, Esera Chee-Kam was just as dangerous.
The Wildfires had their moments, but again were let down by poor execution, pushed passes and one-on-one misses in defence.
"That was our worst performance of the season," Coleman said. "Individually we were poor and collectively we were poor. Don't get me wrong, there were some brilliant moments in there, but in terms of team structure and everything we worked on during the week, it was by far and away our worst performance."
The Wildfires' scrum was strong, breakaway Shawn Ingle was in everything and No.8 George Noa tried his guts out against his former club.
But again the Wildfires shot themselves too many times in the foot. Four of the visitors' tries started deep in their own half and came from turnovers or quick taps.
Marr put Warringah ahead in the 14th minute with a dummy and step before racing 30 metres.
After Warringah had a try disallowed, the Wildfires hit back when Ingle charged down a kick and regathered.
Tupu regained the lead for the Rats, leaving three defenders in his wake with fancy footwork.
The visitors continually threatened on the edges and it was only some desperate last-ditch defence that kept the Wildfires in it.
That changed in the 33nd minute when Marr, dummied and stepped off his left, before sending breakaway Charlie McKill over beside the posts.
Two minutes later, Chee-Kam raced 60 metres from a quick tap.
Then on half-time, the visitors went the length of the field again, shifting the ball to the left for Tupu to scoot up the touchline before linking with Wileman for 29-5 at the break.
After a half-time bake from Coleman, the Wildfires responded with a well-work try to Jeremy Burrill from a short lineout variation.
But that was as close as they got.