By Jack Clifton
The St George Illawarra Dragons Junior Representative teams were in action in their final pre-season hit-out before the holiday break on Saturday.
The St George Dragons respective Harold Matthews Cup (U16) and SG Ball (U18) teams showed positive signs in front of a large crowd against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at Narrabeen Academy.
The mild weather conditions helped the players showcase their abilities to club selectors, and both games were played at a fast speed and featured some hard hitting in defence and some wonderful individual play.
The Dragons Harold Matthews Cup team started proceedings and fell behind early but showed some grit in defence whilst heir passing and talking improved as the match wore on.
"This was a tough match,” said Dragons Harold Matthews Cup Head Coach Graeme Wynn said after the game.
“A lot of the boys tried their hardest, but we still need to improve our line speed in defence.
“That said, it is early and we know what we need to work on when we head back to training.
“I thought some of the individual efforts of players was pleasing and showed some of the talent we have.”
The Dragons SG Ball team followed on and also showed a lot of heart and desire in their matches.
Playing against a bigger and experienced side, the Dragons worked very hard in defence.
The visitors even outscored the hosts four tries to two in the second 30 minute trial, including the try of the day for the Dragons via a chip and chase and a wonderful left foot step to get to the try line.
The Illawarra Steelers respective Harold Matthews Cup (U16) and SG Ball (U18) teams were also in action against the Canberra Raiders in their annual road trip to Goulburn.
The visitors were outscored in both age-level fixtures but showed signs of promise for the future.
“The trials were really good to see who stood up for the Steelers, as both Harold Matthews Head Coach Adam Blake and SG Ball Coach Shane Millard were aiming to reduce the size of their train-on squads,” said Steelers SG Bal Assistant Coach Shaun Timmins.
“We haven’t done a great deal on our team structures yet, but now we’re reducing our numbers we’ll be able to concentrate on this.
“Our trials were thus very successful, and I’m certain both teams will be competitive come the start of our competition matches in February.”
All four Junior Representative squads will complete their pre-Christmas training this week before resuming training in early January.