TWO rounds isn’t a long time to see what improvement last year’s Hastings League whipping boys Port Macquarie-Lake Cathie Boardriders have made.
Last time they played Kendall Blues, the Beau Kettle-led competition favourites ran rings around them and brought up the century.
On Saturday at Lake Cathie Kendall again proved too strong with a 30-4 victory, but Boardriders coach Kodi Baird remained upbeat.
“It was 14-0 at halftime and we bombed two tries so could have easily been well and truly in it,” he said.
“It’s a massive improvement when you consider last year I think Kendall put over 100 on the Boardies.”
The scoreline could have really blown out in the final 25 minutes when injuries threatened to play a determining role in what the scoreboard said at full-time.
But the Boardies dug in and kept it respectable.
“It was a bit of a kick in the guts to basically have no bench for 25 minutes after the effort they put in,” Baird said.
He knew it was going to be a tough ask against the Blues who were buzzing from a 54-14 belting of new boys Laurieton last weekend.
“Kendall are easily the team to beat in my opinion,” he said.
“They have a lot of first grade experience so for us to compete with them as well as we did was a tremendous effort.”
Baird said the second-row pairing of Ben West-Comer and Benjamin Collins were “fantastic”.
“Ben West-Comer was strong for us in the second row and got two points in our players player award after getting all three last week,” he said.
“He comes from Harrington so I didn’t know what to expect from him, but he’s been a real shining light for us in the first two games.
“Benjamin Collins is another who has been really good for us – he’s about 60 kilos ringing wet, but he’s one of the toughest competitors I’ve ever seen.”
After taking the coaching role this season, Baird remained confident the Boardies were on their way back after several lean seasons.
“You have to go into every game confident you can win it, but sometimes I don’t know what I’m going to get out of the team,” he said.
“The ultimate goal for me is to win the whole competition and I believe I have the players to do it.”
He knew a 20-minute performance last week wasn’t what they were about.
“We were pretty off for about 20 minutes against Beechwood and played probably the worst football I’ve ever seen,” Baird said.
“To only lose 30-4 is a big effort and they couldn’t have done any better.”
The addition of Clint Gibbs from Dubbo will be a handy addition for Baird and the Boardies in coming weeks.
“He’ll help us out big time,” the coach said.