By Benalla Ensign

The Benalla Wolfpack played its second game at the weekend, going down 38-18 to last year’s grand finalists, the Murray River Warriors, in a highly contested match at Haydon Park, West Albury.

The Warriors started fast, scoring the first two tries of the game before the Wolfpack hit back, with last week’s man of the match, Augistine Alu, working his way through the Warriors’ defense and diving across the line to put the Wolfpack on the board.

A few handling errors from both sides, along with some bone-crunching tackles from the Wolfpack’s forward line let the 2018 grand finalist know they were in for a solid battle.

The Warriors answered the call, crossing the line again to push the score to 16-6, before Benalla’s Newy Patiole spotted some space behind the Warriors’ defensive line and put a well-weighted grubber deep into the Warriors’ half, which Patiole was able to scoop up and carry cross the line, closing the gap to four points.

A lapse in the Wolfpack’s concentration at kick off gifted the Warriors with a try right on the half-time siren, taking the score to 22-12 at the break.

The Warriors started the second half strong, scoring two quick tries and putting the Wolfpack on the back foot.

Handling errors from the Wolfpack saw the Warriors with possession of the ball, and the Warriors were quick to make the Wolfpack pay for their mistakes, pushing the score out to 32-12.

Undeterred, the Wolfpack hit back with Newy Patiole delivering a chip kick off the scrum to George Chomley, who gathered the kick and ran 40 metres to score under the posts, bringing the score to 32-18.

Unfortunately, more handling errors from the Wolfpack saw the Warriors with possession of the ball again, and they were able to run in the last try of match.

Speaking after the game, Patiole said: ‘‘Handling errors against a quality, experienced team like the Warriors cost us today, but although we lost, the boys showed very good spirit to keep up with them for the majority of the game.’’

The Wolfpack’s next game is against CSU Mud Dogs at Churchill Reserve, Benalla, on April 28.