The Riverina under 23s rugby league side clinched a tight 32-26 win over a Victorian representative side in its first hit out and exceeded coach Josh Cale’s expectations in the process.
There was plenty of positives to take from the game played in Albury but there was one aspect that stood out for Cale early on.
“We weren’t sure what the opposition was going to be like and if anything, our fitness was a lot better than I thought it would be at this time of year,” Cale said.
Cale took a packed squad to Albury for the trial match.
He used the game to not only tinker with combinations but to view some of the players compete for the first time.
“I didn't make it easy for them in taking so many players there but I thought they stood up very well,” Cale said.
“I hadn’t seen some of them play at all and it was really good to see them in action.
“We had enough there for two teams so we moved some blokes around and a few played out of position.
“We were looking to see how they handled it and they came up trumps.”
The squad members will now break up and return to their respective clubs to focus on the Group 20 and Group Nine seasons.
Cale said the signs looked good for the Country Championships.
“The players got on without a hiccup, mixed really well at training and before the game as well,” he said.
“Hopefully all the players can put a good foot forward for their clubs. I told them to go back and train hard and hopefully see them in that game between the two groups.
“Hopefully, they can stay fit for the Country Championships and I’ve got no doubt we can get a good squad together.”
Cale said combinations quickly developed between the players and said Dylan Hately, Ray Talimalie, Dane O’Hehir, Keanau Wighton, Tongia Fox, Hayden Philp, Dave Cowhan and Jack Lyons all had big games for the Riverina outfit.
In the other matches on the day, Riverina defeated its Victorian counterpart 52-0 in the leaguetag while the under 16s and 18s Bidgee Bulls sides went down 28-10 and 26-22, respectively, against the Victorian sides.
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