DEFENDING Mid-North Coast Rugby competition winners the Port Macquarie Pirates got their 2014 campaign off to a positive start on the weekend.
The under-strength team played Engadine - a Sydney based team in a trial match on the weekend and managed to come away with a 25-all draw.
The Pirates had no less than 10 players unavailable for selection for the trial match due to representative trials being held in Coffs Harbour.
Most notably was the absence of Tim Farnsworth, Chris Geary, Scott Munro and Chris Turnham.
Stand in coach for the absent Nigel Hurlston was reserve grade coach John Nicolson and he said the under strength Pirates did an amazing job to stay in touch with the much larger Sydney team.
"They had some big boys," Nicolson said. "They blew us off the park early on and scored in the first five minutes.
"We were a bit shell shocked but they composed themselves well and to their credit got themselves back into the game."
It was the first real hit out of the year for the 2013 premiers and Nicolson said that was evident early on in the game.
"The first couple of minutes were really all over the place," he admitted. "But in the end it was a positive start to the year."
Nicolson said it was a good all round performance from the whole team.
The Pirates will get the chance to continue the good start to the year this weekend when they take on the Cooks from the Newcastle competition again held at Stuart Park.