THE Hastings Valley Vikings were too big and too strong for Wauchope Thunder in the team's first trial on Saturday, but had plenty of post-match praise for their opposition.
The Vikings' reserves team steam-rolled the Thunder 35-7 at Andrews Park in a hit-out which pleased coach Brent Horan no end.
Once they got the go forward right, the Vikings found their way. Horan said his team was guilty of trying to go around the team in the opening exchanges.
"When we got going forward, we looked very good," he said. "Our forward play was brilliant."
Big Vance Byles was outstanding in the second row for the Vikings in his first game of rugby.
A cousin of co-coach Mark Howard, Byles has been poached from Hastings League side the Long Flat Dragons to play the 15-a-side code.
His second-row partner Josh Burt was also good.
"He's come back to play for the club," Horan said.
David Reid got things going well from hooker, while Adam Lipscbome had a strong game at half back. Lipscombe usually plays five eighth or full back.
Jake Taylor had a great game in the centres.
Horan praised Thunder for its efforts in the historic first match for the club.
"There was certainly no lack of effort there," he said. "They're a young side, and they weren't a huge team. They'll go well."
Sam Gleeson scored the Thunder's historic first try at Andrews Park. Gleeson showed pace to run around the defence on the blindside and score.
Thunder coach Marc Minor was adamant the scoreline wasn't important. He said it was all about getting some good game time for his men and working on some things.
He said the team showed plenty of heart in the loss: "They fronted up for most of it."
Captain Paddy Bowen hurt his knee on a day which definitely wasn't his. He was lucky to even take to the field after being hit by a car on the morning of the match.
Jordan Gleeson injured his ribs.
Things got so desperate that Minor had to pull on the boots. He said it indicated the team was a touch short on depth.
"We need Wauchope-based players who are playing with Port teams to front up for us," he said.
It was "good, hard" preparation for the Thunder which will continue this weekend when Minor's men take on Barraba. Then there's a match against Port Pirates and a break before the first round of the Lower Mid North Coast Zone competition against last year's premier, Forster.
Horan was impressed with the Thunder's post match hospitality.
"They had big numbers there," he said, referring to the turnout at the Hastings Hotel. "They're playing rugby now, but they have one eye on the future."