Trials measure of potential

CENTRAL North and New England took a lot out of Saturday’s representative trials at Tamworth Rugby Park.

The 20s and seniors squads both got a run with the 20s sides playing each other, and the seniors were in a four-way trial with Mid North Coast and Western Plains.

The Kookaburras won both of the derbies with the colts showing some impressive signs in defeating the Lions 36-19.

They looked very slick in attack at times. 

The Lions too, looked good when they could string together a few phases and scored some good tries.

In the seniors game following, the Kookaburras always looked to have the Lions’ measure and got up 26-nil.

Josh Stewart set them up for their first points, bursting through the Lions’ defence and showing good strength in the tackle to get the ball away to a supporting Jake Douglas, who ran away to score.

Douglas was one of the Kookaburras’ best over the day.

It was the Lions’ second hit-out together following a narrow loss to Darling Downs last week.

“The first game we were a bit rough,” Kookaburras co-coach Josh Clift said.

“We were too flat. We’ve got to get more depth.

“We’re starting in the line. We’ve got to start injecting.” 

He said against the Lions only a couple of players actually ran onto the ball.

The second game against Mid North Coast was better.

“There was some good touches,” Clift said.

As well as Douglas, Andrew Moodie was also good.

Clift was also impressed by the workload of Daniel Burt and Mac Clark-Dixon in the second row. 

The day highlighted a few areas they needed to address. 

“In the set pieces we’ve got some work to do,” Clift said.

“They’ve also got to work on their discipline with the ball.

“The biggest thing we need is to not push the pass.

“We just threw that miracle ball.

“We just need to be a bit more patient.

“That will come, as will the continuity.”

The talent is there, Clift said, although they were a bit skinny on the ground with players tied up with the Gunnedah 10s and Narrabri’s 50th celebrations.

The Lions had had a couple of training runs together but Saturday was their first proper hit-out.

“I was really happy with the effort shown by the players,” coach Luke Stephen said.

They had eight or nine eligible players missing, and had three players that were “not only new to the zone team but new to the zone”.

“There were some good signs,” Stephen said.

“While we didn’t score against Central North we created two or three opportunities.”

In their second game against Western Plains they got across the line twice.

The second came just before the final bell and from some good interplay between the backs.

The game also gave them some valuable insight into their opposition.

They’re due to play Western Plains in the first game down at Mudgee.

“It was really important game to be able to see what they’ve got,” Stephen said.

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