Vikings coach Sean Barrett doesn't have to think for long to describe how his team has performed throughout the first half of the 2019 Illawarra Rugby season.
In fact, it only takes him one word to sum up their season, thus far. Inconsistent.
It's a trend that's emerged right through their season. There has been some brilliance, such as the win over University, and there have been the letdowns, such as the losses to Camden and Tech.
Then there have been the matches like last week's loss to Shamrocks where the team paired an error-strewn first half with a near-flawless second half.
Barrett concedes the first half performance cost his team last week and he knows anything less than an 80-minute performance will not be enough when Vikings host Bowral on Saturday.
"We went pretty close last week," Barrett said "That second half we played very well and we were able to convert pressure into points. But against anyone in this competition, you can't give them that much ball and field position, you're going to come unstuck.
"We can beat Bowral if we play the whole game the way we did in the second half last week. We have our four Illawarriors players coming back which will strengthen us. If we had those four players last week we probably would have won."
Unlike Vikings, Bowral have been as consistent as always throughout the season. The defending premiers have dropped just one match thus far, an uncharacteristically sloppy performance at Ocean Park in round four.
Barrett is predicting Bowral to play an expansive style that makes full use of their talented outside backs.
"They've got the whole package at the moment. They've got a very expansive game and will look to throw it out wide to Henry Yuill. They'll be solid in the midfield to get over the advantage line and then try to execute out wide to give Henry space to move.
"For us, the counter is to win the contest up front. It's also about how we start each half. If we start each half really well and come away with points, we'll gain confidence. We didn't do it against Shamrocks, we had the ball but didn't get inside their 22."
Despite their early season struggles, Vikings sit in fourth on the ladder, albeit having played one more game than many of their rivals.
A split is beginning to emerge on the table, with Shamrocks, Bowral and Avondale starting to pull away from the rest of the competition.
For Barrett, his team will have to string together a number of wins to remain in contact with that top group, but he's confident a run of consistent performances is just around the corner.
"We have been inconsistent and let teams get on top of us when they shouldn't have. But if we can play a game like the Uni game or like the second half of the Shamrocks game every week, we'll be in a good position.
"We need the discipline to be patient, consistent and make sure we're playing to our structures and shape at the pace we want to do it."
In other games this weekend, University will look to back up their last-start victory over Campbelltown when they host a determined Kiama side, while on the other side of the motorway, Tech Tahs will face Avondale at Saunders Oval.
Shamrocks will look to back up last week's win over Vikings when they make the trip to Shoalhaven.
The clash between Camden and Campbelltown has been postponed until August, with Camden playing host to the Shute Shield fixture between Western Sydney and Warringah.
Illawarra Rugby Round Nine
Saturday June 15 3pm:
VIKINGS v BOWRAL at Vikings Rugby Ground
SHOALHAVEN v SHAMROCKS at Shoalhaven Rugby Park
TECH TAHS v AVONDALE at Saunders Oval
UNIVERSITY v KIAMA at University Oval
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