They mightn't have come away with the win but Farrer under-14s coach Tom Learoyd-Lahrs couldn't have been prouder of the character his young charges showed in their Newcastle competition debut on Saturday.
Playing in Division 1 it was a bit of a baptism of fire with their opponents West Newcastle - from what the former NRL enforcer has heard - one of the best teams in the competition and piling on four unanswered tries in the first quarter.
But the Farrer boys clawed their way back into the contest and went on to win the second half as the game finished up 34-16.
"I think they realised there is a fair difference to the level they've experienced the last couple of years in minor league," Learoyd-Lahrs said.
"The other team came out aggressively and enthusiastically and our boys weren't expecting it."
"But our boys got better as the game wore on."
It is something too they will get used to the more games they play.
"When you're used to playing at that level every week, it becomes normal," he said.
One of the things Learoyd-Lahrs was most pleased about was how they responded to the early ambush and how quickly they adapted. Down four tries to nil they could have easily put their heads down. But they didn't.
He was also impressed with the way some of the smaller players in the side responded to the physical challenge of taking on "bigger and stronger boys". "Bumped off" at the start, Learoyd-Lahrs noted they were by the end standing in front and being aggressive.
"It's (the competition) a really good stepping stone for these boys, they'll take a lot out of it," he said.
"For us as a school it's something we wanted to trial.
"The next eight weeks will be an indicator of whether it is feasible or not."
Looking at the scoreboard he said it "might not be deemed overly successful" but it is more about challenging the boys and exposing them to a consistent higher standard of footy.
"You don't learn much about yourself winning all the time but you learn a hell of a lot getting beaten and under adversity all the time," Learoyd-Lahrs said.
The North Tamworth under-18s side he coaches are also playing in the Newcastle comp (in Division 2). Their campaign though had a bit of a false start on the weekend with their first round opponents Singleton withdrawing on the eve of the competition kick-off.