ARMIDALE fell short again at the Armidale Knockout, missing out on the win they have been craving but happy with their runner-up effort.
The Blues were beaten by defending champions Pirates in the final 21-3 on Sunday after a good weekend that saw them account for Robb (2), Tamworth and Inverell on their way to the final.
“We’re really happy with the effort the boys put in,” co-coach Anthony McMillan said.
They entered two teams in the tournament and rotated through about 22 players for the 1s.
Pirates had the Blues under pressure early on in the final and could have easily been three tries up by mid-way through the first half.
They were only one try up but kicked on from that to lead 21-3 at half-time.
“We just didn’t counter the pressure they put on in the first 15 minutes,” McMillan said.
“We knew what they were going to do and where they were going to run.”
But they couldn’t seem to stop them.
The weather didn’t help. It bucketed down for about 10 minutes at one stage, which made the ball hard to get a grip on.
“The boys reckoned it was like soap,” McMillan said.
There were a lot of positives to take from the weekend.
“Our scrum was excellent all weekend,” he said.
Their defence also stood up pretty well.
“Yesterday’s (Saturday) games the boys didn’t have a point scored against us,” McMillan said. “The boys defended well.”
They got off the line and manned up well.
McMillan was also pretty happy with how they gelled for their first run together.
The weekend was a chance to experiment with a few things.
One of the most obvious was playing barnstorming number eight Mike TeMoana at inside centre.
“We just had a young backline.
“I wanted to give them a bit of direction,” McMillan said.
Also with his ability to draw the defence he thought that might create some holes for the outside backs, which it did.
“A big advantage for us going forward is against smaller backlines our outside backs carved them up with their pace and scored some good tries,” McMillan said.
They’ve now got “three weeks before the season starts to work on everything”.