Kurri Kurri Bulldogs have got their season off to a winning start with a solid 28-12 win against Macquarie Scorpions.
Led by an outstanding game by five-eighth Jarom Haines, the Bulldogs shrugged off a poor start to run in six tries to two for a 28-12 win.
The win could have been even more comprehensive apart from a poor day with the boot by win Jono Maloney whose normally radar-straight kicking was astray landing just two of six hots.
"We made a few mistakes early on. I think from our first five sets we might have completed one so we really invited them into our halt," Bulldogs coach Ron Griffiths said.
"We repelled a fair bit, but in the end we conceded a fairly soft try. They kicked a penalty after that to go up 8-0.
"We finally started to carry a bit of football and although we were a touch clunky we were able to score a few tries and get out to a reasonable lead by half-time.
"I think the big thing for us was that although we didn't complete our sets early on our resolve in defence was pretty good.
"It's still not where it needs to be, but it was good enough for yesterday.
"As long as we keep on working and improving on that we will be OK."
Griffiths said the Bulldogs were able to benefit from some clever work early by Haines in the middle of the park which opened space out wide later.
Zeb Dunstan picked up a double in a fine start to the season, benefitting from Haines' work inside.
"I thought the work on earlier allowed the space to free up for Zeb to work in and that came from Jarom (Haines) playing short early," Griffiths said.
"Jarom Haines was exceptional, He was just really busy. He was on the ball all day and organising a lot of different things.
The Bulldogs capitalised on the Scorpions defence being left short when a player was sin-binned, but have plenty of scope to improve their support running.
"I felt we were a bit one-out in the middle of the park, there wasn't enough support," Griffiths said. "Our guys were running with some real intent which was good and if we can improve our support we'll have a lot more success there."
After next week's bye for Easter, the Bulldogs travel down to Harker Oval on April 27 to take on Western Suburbs.
"Obviously they've had a big recruitment drive so they are going to be a different beast this year," Griffiths said. "We'll soon see where we are at.
"We're under no illusions we've got some work to do, but we're well on our way to being there which is very pleasing from a coaching staff and players' perspective."
In an even performance, Griffiths was also pleased with the performances of Brady Hammond, Damon Bard, Tyme Dow-Nickau, Mick Steele and Ben Wyborn.
"I thought Brady was really solid. He is just no nonsense, he gets the job done," he said.
"Damon Bard was good in the middle of the park. He came off the bench and didn't play huge minutes but we could tell that he was finding his second-wind a lot quicker and he'll be much better for the run.
"Tyme Dow-Nikau, Mick Steele and Ben Wyborn also had good games, not that we had a bad player."