The Hunter Wildfires will have the chance to regroup at home at No.2 Sportsground this weekend after what proved to be a tough re-introduction to the Shute Shield.
Wildfires coach Scott Coleman said the "scoreline didn't read well" in what was Hunter's first game back in Sydney's premier rugby union competition since 1999, but his players "never gave up" during a 50-7 loss to Randwick at Coogee Oval on Saturday.
"The pace of the game probably came as a bit of a shock to the boys," Coleman said.
"It took us a while to get going. We were down 12-0 after 15 minutes and then 24-0 at half-time.
"The scoreline didn't read well but I think we'll learn a lot of lessons from that and what we've got to compete with.
"One of the main positives out of it all was that our boys never gave up. It was 7-all for the last 15 minutes and a lot of those kind of games can really blow out with 20-plus points at the end."
Coleman said line-outs and one-one-one defence were key areas his squad would address at training this week ahead of hosting Eastwood this Saturday.
"We have a lot of work to do on our line-out. We lost six out of our eight so we were just giving up the ball," Coleman said.
"We missed 23 tackles as well, that's far too many for this level.
"They are pretty easy things to fix and if we fix those we're back in the contest."
Coleman said Hunter's best performer was Merewether breakaway Lachlan Miller, who crossed for a consolation try late in proceedings.
Wanderers No.8 Ben Ham and new halfback Mahe Fangupo also rated mentions from the representative mentor along with Hamilton winger Caileb Gerrard, who was called up late to help replace Nelson Bay's Chad Northcott (work) after scoring three tries in a recent trial.
Depending on COVID-19 restrictions, Coleman said the Wildfires were looking forward to "playing in front of family and friends" on July 25.
Elswewhere in Saturday's opening round Sydney University defeated Warringah 36-27 in last year's grand final replay, Southern Districts beat Eastwood 34-19, Gordon overcame Easts 35-24, Norths kept West Harbour tryless in a 32-3 victory and Manly easily accounted for Western Sydney 28-5. Penrith had the bye.
LADDER: Randwick, Norths, Manly, Southern Districts, Gordon, Sydney University 5; Easts 1; Penrith, Warringah, Eastwood, Western Sydney, West Harbour, Hunter 0.
ROUND 2: Hunter v Eastwood, Sydney University v Manly, Gordon v Western Sydney, Randwick v Warringah, Easts v West Harbour, Norths v Penrith. Southern Districts bye.
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