The Goulburn Bulldogs got their 2020 campaign underway on last Wednesday with a trial match against the Canberra Raiders Under 20 squad.
Played at Raiders HQ in Bruce, the match was not officially scored but was used by both sides as a tune-up, with the teams taking turns between attacking and defending.
On the whole, the Raiders looked the more efficient and well-drilled side, but Bulldogs coach Adam Kyle was pleased with the early signs from his team.
"That's our first hit-out for the season as a team against a side that's been training for four months, so I thought we competed really well," Kyle said.
"Our wrestle was the thing I was most proud of, I thought our defense today was really good.
"Our attack was a bit clunky. It's gonna be, we've got a couple of new players in the side.
"We can take a lot out of this, they're a well-structured side. There's guys in there who are going to play NRL in the next couple of years. I thought our boys did a really good job and competed really well."
As Saturday's scheduled fixture against a touring Fijian side was cancelled due for administrative reasons, Wednesday's was the final trial match for Goulburn until the West Wyalong Knockout at the end of this month.
This year's knockout will feature 16 teams from across NSW and the ACT, and Kyle aims to defend Goulburn's 2019 title while tuning up the side for the season ahead.
Having farewelled several highly experienced players at the end of the 2019 season, the Bulldogs go into 2020 with a much younger squad.
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Though there are similarities to 2018, which was a year which was spent by Goulburn building towards their success last year, Kyle is confident the side can continue its strong form.
"We've got a young side, we've brought in 21, 22-year-old kids who are really hungry," he said.
"Those kids, when I came three years ago, they're of age now and experienced.
"Like I said before, we've got the best spine in the comp, then you add a few really quality middles that we've got and a few of these superstar outside backs, despite losing the guys that we've lost I think we're in a good position."
The West Wyalong Knockout will take place at the Ron Crowe Oval in West Wyalong from Friday, February 28 to Saturday, February 29.
The action will get underway from 6pm on Friday night and will wrap up at roughly 8pm on Saturday night.
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