IT is clear just how much Parkes missed rugby league, with a big crowd enjoying a sunny March afternoon at Pioneer Oval as the Parkes Spacemen took on Forbes and Young in trial games on Saturday afternoon.
The under 18's enjoyed a huge win in their derby trial against Forbes before both reserve and first grade suffered heavy losses to impressive Young Cherrypickers sides.
Spacemen coach Brent Wood wasn't concerned with the score and was pleased to finally get a proper hit out - with many players not playing competitive rugby league since mid 2019.
"I was pleased with the first half, we were fairly light on and missing a couple of props, but I was really happy with the forwards and the momentum they provided," Wood said.
"At half time the score really should have been 12-all, we had a couple of tries disallowed and looked really cohesive despite the entire right hand side never playing together before."
"We didn't get much ball in the second half but it was good to be tackling; we aimed up in defence in really well and that's what we've been focusing on during the preseason so far."
A couple of junk time tries to the Cherrypickers blew the score out the 4-40, but it is safe to say that wasn't a true reflection of much of the game.
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Understandably, the Parkes side were very tired in the second half and coming up against a Young side that has already played several trials meant gaps started to open up in the defensive line towards the end of the game.
Wood expected that to happen, but highlighted the efforts of a couple of players that really stood out.
"Finnley Neilsen come off the bench and had impact straight away, while Sam Dwyer and Jack Creith were very impressive.
"I thought Jordon Pope was our best player, the good thing about Jordo is his worst and best games aren't far apart - you always know what you're going to get with him and he hasn't skipped a beat at all," said Wood.
Creith and Chad Porter don't appear to have skipped a beat despite the break, and looked very dangerous both playing and running the ball in the halves; with the pair creating a number of chances in the opposition 20.
The first half in particular was an entertaining affair, and Spacemen supporters have every reason to be optimistic heading into the 2021 Group 11 season.
In the under 18's, young star Toby Miller put on a clinic as they cruised to a 38-10 victory over Forbes; Miller has put on some size over the offseason and his vision, skill, and athleticism looked a class above many of the players on the field.
A resolute but undermanned Spacemen reserves grade side was no match for Young, going down 6-24, though the club is expecting to get many players back for the next trial.
The Spacemen will now get stuck back into preseason training as they prepare for a trial against Forbes on April 17, with the club looking to field a full strength side, including new recruits, in what is shaping up to be a massive derby, despite it being 'just' a trial.
The season proper will begin on May 2.
Under 18's:Parkes Spacemen 38 defeated Forbes Magpies 10
Reserve grade: Parkes Spacemen 6 defeated by Young Cherrypickers 24
First grade: Parkes Spacemen 4 defeated by Young Cherrypickers 40