Group 20 rugby league
DAVID Milne is certain the Griffith Black and Whites are on the right track despite going down 54-22 to the Hay Magpies in their first trial match of the pre-season on Saturday.
The Pies ran away with the game in the second half at Hay Park Oval, scoring 26 unanswered points to stretch their six-point half-time lead into a very comfortable win.
But there was still plenty of evidence to suggest the Black and Whites will no longer be the Group 20 pushovers they have been over the last few seasons.
After his first outing as captain-coach, Milne was delighted with what he described as an "unbelievable" first-up effort from his players.
"I'm not worried about the scores at this stage," he said.
"Everything we've been working on is looking all right at the moment.
"Our combos aren't there yet - but it was our first trial, so they were never going to be.
"We went away from things every now and then but I think we'll be a very competitive side this year."
Milne was reluctant to single out individuals for praise until after he had reviewed the footage from the game, but said he was pleased with his new-look pack, which gave the Black and Whites some much-needed go-forward up the middle.
"We've got a bit of size and speed there too, actually," Milne said.
"We're going to be very hard to contain when we get a roll on - we'll be pretty hard to stop."
The forwards even impressed Hay captain-coach Phil Crosby, who said the Black and Whites will be a much better side in 2014 if Saturday afternoon is any guide.
"They've got a couple of strong forwards and they were killing us with the offloads," Crosby said.
"They were good with their hands, the forwards.
"They'll definitely go better than last year, without a doubt."
Milne said it was a lack of cohesion, not fitness, that proved costly in the second half."Obviously we'll need to get fitter as the year goes on but that will come," he said.
"All the boys haven't really played together so you can't expect miracles. "It'll take probably at least a month, and then maybe around halfway of the season you'll start seeing the best of us."
The Black and Whites did have at least one win on Saturday - the club's league tag outfit ran out 26-10 winners over the Magpies in the curtain-raiser.