They were only trials, but the Newcastle Knights junior representative teams impressed in Mudgee on Saturday.
Normally trial matches can be scrappy and mistake-riddled, but the Knights’ junior sides put on a clinical show in entertaining matches against the CRL Academy at Glen Willow Sports Complex.
The day started with the Under 15s outfit, who despite competing hard against an older 16s Western side, went down 26-20 thanks to a try on the final siren.
Knights’ U15s coach Laurie Clifton was disappointed with the loss, but extremely pleased with the effort given they were taking on footballers who were older and more experienced.
"With 12 months maturity they were just that little bit stronger and we couldn’t control them in the ruck area," Clifton admits.
"But we got better as went in the game, even though we got beat in the last play in the game.
"They had a scrum and then they chip-kicked over the top and re-gathered under the posts as the hooter went.
"I was happy with the effort though.
"They didn’t execute as well as they have been, but this is probably a whole new experience for them with four hours on a bus trip and the heat conditions.
"But I thought they prepared themselves very well for that."
The Under 15s may have got beaten on the buzzer, but the 16s and 17s were far too strong for their respective opponents.
The 16s recorded a resounding 38-12 win over the Western 17s, while the Knights' 17s charged home with a comprehensive 50-12 romping of the Western 18s.
Clifton was on hand for both matches and was highly impressed by the clinical manner in which they defeated their opponents.
"The 16s just outclassed them with their structures and how they play," he explains.
"They train three days a week, so you’d expect that type of result given where they have been and what they have done.
"It was the same with the 17s.
"Their program is similar to ours, but they were the same with the education that they’ve had coming through.
"It puts them in good stead at knowing how to play the game and structures and things like that.
"So they just blew them off the park and they were just too fast and too strong."
On the back of a successful weekend in Mudgee, Clifton says the Club are seriously looking at playing more football at the regional town in the future.
"I got asked if we would consider possibly going back to Mudgee and making it an annual event," he says.
"I think we would take it into consideration because I think there is benefit in it."
The Knights’ SG Ball side also recorded an impressive result last Friday – a comprehensive 18 tries to two win over the Entrance Tigers U19s at Neville Thompson Field in Dora Creek.
High Performance Unit coach Troy Pezet was thrilled with the result, reserving special praise for a number of players.
"Tyrone Walsh at hooker was great," Pezet says.
"As was David Sheridan at fullback and Will Sheely in the front-row
"It was a very good performance across the board."
The Knights' SG Ball will have there last trial this Saturday against the NYC side in preparation for the opening round game against Wests Magpies at Cessnock on February 15.