THE Uralla Tigers have roared into contention a week before they head back into the top flight of Group 19 by beating Group 4 newcomers Oxley Diggers at home 48-12.
The Tigers have been playing reserve grade for almost four years, but have recruited well and will now field four teams this season.
The trial was split into two 30-minute periods and a 20 minute period with both clubs fielding over 25 players.
The Tigers got off to a flyer after ill discipline from the Diggers led to a string of penalties and a couple of tries.
Oxley’s Jason Wheeler was sent off in the first 10 minutes.
Uralla took the first period 26-0 before the Diggers reeled themselves back in and played football.
Tigers’ coach Carl Press was impressed with the way the side took on the bigger team.
“We outplayed them with good shape and played a simple game,” Press said.
Both sides were experimenting with different combinations and positions.
The Tigers Lewis Ahoy was carving the defence up running good lines and utilising his right foot step.
Ahoy played himself into the starting halfback role for next week’s opening game against his old team Armidale.
“Lewie (Ahoy) will play half with Fred Campbell at five-eight and Jordan Press at fullback,” Press said.
“It is a luxury having players that can play anywhere.”
Press and Campbell can and will also play in the 18s for the start of the year.
New recruit from the Port Sharks’ Dalwyn Bale was named captain for the season.
Bale was great in the centres and was causing trouble all day for the defence.
The coach was most impressed with the ball carrying forwards who dominated up the middle.
“Every carry was 15-20m.”
“They played good grinding footy in there.” Diggers’ president Mick Schmiedel said his side underestimated Uralla but had a solid hit out none the less.
“Uralla are a small side and they thought they would steamroll them for an easy win,” Schmiedel said.
“They played smart and were too quick for us early on.”
Oxley did slow them down and get in the game but the damage was done.
Damien Allen led the way in the forwards both running the ball and tackling all game.
Patrick Strong was good in the centres, although the backs got found out by the extra speed Uralla had.
“We won’t have the fastest backs this season but we will hold our own with a full squad,” Schmiedel said.
“We will have a big pack and be strong in the centre.”
The Diggers will play their fifth trial against Gunnedah this Friday night before playing in the Wests Knockout the following weekend.