The Maitland Blacks will need an 80-minute performance across the team if they are to record their first win of the season away to Hamilton on Saturday.
The Blacks showed plenty of attacking flair and defensive grit in scoring 20 unanswered points against Southern Beachers in round one two weeks ago, but failed to get the win when Beaches crossed for a try with just seconds remaining.
Halfback Jono O’Toole and forward Sapatia Peniata were both crucial players for the Blacks and have been rewarded with selection in the Newcastle representative team which plays their first match next weekend.
Forward recruits Travis Brooke and James Robinson were both excellent and Blacks coach Mick Hickling and Ryan McCormack were delighted with their performance.
“It would have been great to start the season with a home-win, but we showed plenty. I thought all our recruits played very well, Brookesy (Travis Brooke) ended up with two tries, Sap (Sapatia Peniata) was strong and James Robinson gave us the advantage in the scrum,” Hickling said after the match.
James Curran was very good in particular with his defence and the combination of Jye Estatheo and Josh Logan continued to flourish and creates all sorts of problems for defences with their attacking runs.
Hickling believes he has the squad to make the finals this year and challenge for the title.
But it is a work in process and the Blacks will sorely miss injured skipper Mick Howell for the first two months of the campaign.