The Newcastle Knights have valued the experience of playing the Port Macquarie Sharks and Wauchope Blue on Saturday using the trial match to gauge areas of improvement before Round 1.
The trial was the first 13-on-13 match of 2015 after the explosive Auckland Nines 9-a-side tournament at the end of last month.
Tyler Randell was eager for the chance to test himself in the standard 80-minute format for first time since last year's NSW Cup grand final after almost four months of pre-season training.
“I ended up playing nearly the whole game. It was definitely a lot different to the Nines, but it was good to get out there for a hit out,” Randell said.
Randell has trained throughout the pre-season as hooker, and has worked closely with mentor Danny Buderus.
With new recruit Carlos Tuimavave ruled out of the trial due to an injury sustained in the Auckland Nines tournament, the versatile half slotted in at five eighth for the match.
“I was pretty happy with the game, but there’s a few things I still want to work on,” he said.
Randell excelled in the position where he spent most of his junior football scoring a hat trick in the game.
“I’m not unfamiliar with it (playing five eighth), I enjoyed it,” he said.
Jake Mamo also looked to back up a stellar performance at the Auckland Nines tournament in his first 80-minute match of 2015.
The 20-year-old started on the wing before sliding into fullback late in the game and dazzling with a number of flashy try assists before putting points on the board himself.
“There were a lot errors early on in the game but we sort of found our groove in both halves and ended up putting a couple of tries on,” Mamo said.
“It was slow out on the wing in the couple of quarters but then I got the opportunity as fullback in the third quarter and I was happy there and got a little bit more involved.”
James Elias made a consistent effort off the bench scoring in both halves of the game.
The 2014 NSW regular particularly enjoyed the chance to play with the Knights’ NRL players Kade Snowden and Joey Leilua and believed bringing the game to Wauchope was a positive for the local community.
“It was good coming out to a country town…and it was good for the locals up here,” Elias said.
“They got a chance to show what they have in front of a pretty competitive NRL squad."
Casualties in the game were Pat Mata’utia who injured his ankle and Jaelen Feeney who suffered an injury to his elbow.
Pat has been cleared of a fracture to his ankle with Feeney set for more scans to determine the extent of his injury.
The Newcastle Knights now head to Canberra for another trial against the Raiders on Saturday.