While the Newcastle Knights failed to record a win in Saturday’s trial match against the Wentworthville Magpies, NSW Cup coach Matt Lantry believes the experience was invaluable for players’ preparation for the upcoming season.
The extended side comprised of players from the Club’s fulltime NRL training squad as well as local players who have trained part-time with the NSW Cup team throughout the pre-season.
The game also featured four quarters with four teams named to play throughout the game with the final result seeing the Wentworthville Magpies defeat the Newcastle Knights 16-14.
“There were some really good things out there,” Lantry told Knights TV following the game.
“As a Club, between the NRL crew and our part-time guys, there are things we need to improve on, but that’s what trials are for, to find those things out.”
Lantry was particularly pleased with how his pre-season squad handled itself against in their first contest against a strong opposition.
“I thought they were great. We created a lot of opportunities," he said.
“We played some really nice shape and defended really well and it was good to see those guys implement what we practiced over the last three months.”
Another positive of the game was the opportunity it afforded part-time trainers to play alongside players with NRL experience.
“The local league is a vital cog in the support of NSW Cup and it’s good to see guys gain an opportunity,” he added.
Meanwhile, Newcastle Knight Bryce Donovan took his place in the extended line-up and relished his first chance to compete in 2016.
“It was good to be back and have a good hit-out,” he said.
"It was unlucky and we probably shot ourselves in the foot a bit, we missed half a dozen chances there, even towards the end, we couldn’t quite execute, but it was alright for our first hit out and we can only get better."
Donovan, who has progressed from the Club's NYC side, said he learned plenty from the team's more experienced members.
"Even in the warm up, just to see how professional they are and how they carry themselves.
"They were talking to me in the warm up, it was really good to be around them.
The team was also proud to perform in front of a decent crowd at Newcastle’s No. Sportsground were buoyed by the strong support.
“It was an unreal atmosphere, they cheered us on when we ran out and everything we did, they were right there with us,” he said.
The first trial match of the season forms a good foundation for the Club’s second round of trial matches before the season kicks off.
“The NRL group will go to Canberra next week and we roll into Mounties in Mount Pritchard on the Sunday,” Lantry said.
“Nathan (Brown) and his staff will select a squad to go down there and we’ll discuss how many part time players will get an opportunity with the full times which is what they have been looking forward to.
“We should get two good trials under our belt leading into the competition.”