PORT Macquarie Sharks will take a lot of confidence out of competing with the Macquarie Scorpions in their rugby league trial on Saturday.
A small 10-minute window in the middle of the match ultimately cost the Group 3 side in the five tries to three defeat.
The Scorpions were last year’s Newcastle Rugby League premiers and their consistency across the entire match was ultimately what got them home.
Macquarie tuned up for their season opener on April 21 and 22 against Lakes United with a trip north, but it was Port Macquarie coach Jake Hawkins who liked what he saw.
“I was really impressed with how we played,” Hawkins said.
“The first 20 minutes was probably the biggest shock in that we hadn’t played together before and we started the game perfect and completed our first 11 sets.
“We scored the first try so we were on top early which was good, (but Macquarie) are a quality outfit and have a really good squad.
“I thought they were going to be a bit better, but that was credit to us. We played pretty good footy.”
Luke Sprague’s opening try for the Sharks sparked last year’s Newcastle premiers into action as they surged over the top of the locals during the middle part of the match.
The Sharks clung to an early one try advantage until just before the break.
“They scored two quick tries in the third quarter to get back in front and we were a bit tired towards the end,” Hawkins said.
“It was our first hit-out, but it was a good performance and the game was for working on combinations and what works best for us.”
Slade Long and debutante winger Ollie Pascoe also managed to cross for tries.
“Ollie scored a try and had a few good carries out of our end and Harry Hanley put on the biggest shot of the day,” Hawkins said.
Pascoe was hopeful his first top grade performance would give his coach some food for thought during the season.
“I was pretty happy with how I went overall and hopefully I’ll get a bit of a run in first grade this year,” he said.
The Sharks coach was impressed with the performances of returning duo Joey Cudmore and Dave Geary while Corey Murphy was also strong.
Cudmore, who has had more comebacks than John Farnham, said there were encouraging signs for the Sharks for the season ahead.
“Teams like Macquarie just keep coming at you during the middle of the match,” he said.
“In Group 3 you can afford to drop your guard a bit, but they don’t at that level in Newcastle.”