Assistant coach Craig Sandercock says the weekend’s trial at Wauchope has provided a valuable opportunity to evaluate and identify areas of focus as the Newcastle Knights prepare for this Saturday’s final trial match against the Canberra Raiders.
The trial was a chance for the squad, which comprised a mix of NRL experience and younger developing players, to put months of pre-season training to practice on the paddock.
“It allowed us to work on a few things we’ve been working hard on in training,” Sandercock told Knights TV on Monday.
Despite the 86-0 white-wash over local Group 3 teams the Port Macquarie Sharks and Wauchope Blues, the experience provided a sounding board for players’ pre-season progress.
“I know it was a pretty dominant display, but we got a lot out of it,” he said.
“Our structures in attack held up pretty well and put us in good stead for our next hit out in Canberra.
“Apart from the first 10 minutes, I think our error rate was pretty good and low and that was reflected in the score line.
“That was probably the most positive thing."
The first trial after the Auckland Nines tournament last month has also identified areas of improvement that will be given attention during the week’s training sessions.
“Our execution and our timing is still a little bit out, and that's to be expected,” explains Sandercock.
“This weekend will be another step forward.
“All our training and preparation is geared for Round 1 against the Warriors, so I expect a bit more improvement this weekend as well.”
With the Canberra trial selection made this week and spots still up for grabs in the NRL line-up, players seized the opportunity to impress coach Rick Stone during the match.
“There were a lot of tries scored and a lot of the boys played well,” Sandercock said.
“For me, Tyler Randell stood out and it was good to see Sam Mataora have a dominant performance.
“Even young Jaelen Feeney showed some real touch of class."
Sandercock hinted to the possibility of versatile half Tyler Randell backing up for Saturday’s trial at Canberra after playing a significant part in the Wauchope game.
"He's put his hand up in his performance and the way he's been training,” he said.
Sandercock was also impressed by the local Clubs’ hospitality and professionalism when hosting the Knights in the Wauchope and Port Macquarie district.
"Rick and I got there early and to see all the volunteers and the preparation, it really makes you appreciate how hard people work, especially in the country,” he said.
"To give something back to the local community, I think it's very important.”