Under-19s coach Chris Plume felt Leeds Rhinos’ 20-16 Lazenby Cup defeat by Hunslet Hawks was a good exercise, despite the result, writes Peter Smith.
Rhinos fielded six senior players – five of them forwards – and Plume said: “It was a good hit-out for them – the pack was mainly from the first team and they got some good minutes and progressed as it went on.
“We are happy with that. In the second half the conditions dried up a bit, the fellas got a feel for it and I think that’s when the first teamers really came to the fore and started playing really well.
“Singo (Brad Singleton) was good throughout, Ryan Bailey was good while he was on the field and Mitch Achurch got 80 minutes under his belt.
“All that is vital for us in our preparation for the start of the season.”
Given the strength of Rhinos’ pack the result was a surprise, but Plume reflected: “In those conditions it is a bit of an evener.
“Even though it was an experienced pack Clarky (Chris Clarkson) is still young and so are Mitch Achurch and Brad Singleton – and there was young Robbie Ward in there as well. I think we were more than competitive, but whether we should have won the game I am not so sure, just on the strength of the pack.”
Liam Sutcliffe, 19, was the only member of Rhinos’ backline with first team experience. He lined up alongside three 17-year-olds and three aged 19 in the starting side.
Several of yesterday’s team were playing open-age rugby for the first time and Plume said: “They’ve got to learn to do it at some point and the Lazenby Cup is how many young players have been introduced to playing against men.
“There’s nothing new there and I think a lot of them did themselves justice.
“Ashton Golding, who played on the wing, is only 17 and he was pretty good, he did some nice stuff. There were some other young kids as well and it was a good experience for them. They will definitely benefit from it.
“It was a good pre-season game and we’re happy for the run-out.”
Of Kingstone Press One side Hunslet, Plume said: “I thought they were good, they stuck at it.
“There was a time when we came back and scored two quick tries to go in front and their heads could have done down, but they didn’t.
“They kept plugging away.”