HUNTER Wildfires coach Scott Coleman has rarely had cause to question his players despite a couple of lopsided scorelines in their return season in the Shute Shield.
But a frustrated Coleman called on the players to show some pride in the jersey in the final two rounds after dishing up their "worst performance of the season" in a 50-15 loss to Warringah on Saturday.
The Wildfires had pinpointed Warringahs' strengths in the lead-up but did little to stop them in an eight-tries-to-three rout.
Warringah fly-half Ben Marr toyed with the home side in the first half, scoring a try and playing a hand in two others.
Rats' wide men Charlie Tupu and Esera Chee-Kam were equally dangerous, especially from turnovers and quick restarts.
"We knew they were going to play up-tempo, ad-lib footy and we didn't react to it," Coleman said. "We spoke about [Warringah halfback] Josh Holmes taking quick taps and we let him take four and they made sixty metres each time, if they didn't score.
"They have some class players. We knew what their 10 was going to do and the pace they had out wide, we addressed all that but we didn't handle it. Some of our missed tackles were atrocious.
"I have asked the players to watch the game, assess their performance and then forget about it. I'm not going to talk about it on Tuesday."
Next for the Wildfires is a visit by West Harbour, who ran in six unanswered tries on the way to a 50-15 win over Parramatta on Saturday. The bonus-point win moved the Pirates six points above the Wildfires in 10th.
They Wildfires complete a shortened campaign away to cellar dwellers Penrith.
"The next two games are massive for us," Coleman said. "We have to regroup and get some pride back into our jersey and representing the region. Do we want to be contenders or pretenders in this competition?"
Marr put Warringah ahead in the 14th minute with a dummy and step before racing 30 metres.
The Wildfires hit back when Shawn Ingle, who was their best, charged down a kick and dived over.
Winger Charlie 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 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.
"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," Coleman said.