Penrith Panthers coach Anthony Griffin is unconcerned by a particularly scrappy trial loss against a Canterbury Bulldogs reserve grade line-up ahead of a round one meeting against Parramatta in a fortnight.
Other than lock Greg Eastwood, there were few household names in Dean Pay’s final trial team but young halves Lachie Lewis and Josh Cleeland, playing behind a group of disciplined and determined forwards, crafted a big upset against a near full strength Penrith side.
The mountain of ball they coughed up and the raft of silly penalties they gave away made life extremely difficult for the Panthers.
Left centre Tyrone Peachey had a night to forget for the mountain men, failing to ground what should have been a simple try, coming up with further unforced errors, and being on hand as two soft tries were scored through his left edge channel.
Opposite centre Dean Whare spent the second 40 minutes on ice due to hamstring tightness while injured duo Waqa Blake and Corey Harawira-Naera each got through their shortened stints in promising fashion.
“Obviously you don’t like getting beat, but the good thing was it was a trial, the opposition were really good,” Griffin told NRL.com after the game.
“They out-enthused us, had a lot of possession, but there were some areas of our game we’ve got to work on. We look forward to round one now.
“We played behind the possession count, so we spent a lot of the night defending and obviously made some errors there.
“We had a 60 percent completion rate and some of our attack just looked a bit tired at times. Second half we were a bit better, we created a lot of chances. We take stock of that and move on to round one.”
Griffin forced his entire starting 13 to play the opening 40 minutes in hot and humid conditions in order to build combinations ahead of round one and on that front it was mission accomplished, he said.
“That got all our forwards a real good hit-out and that was the plan. Obviously, our spine got to spend a lot of time together for the first time, Peter Wallace playing with the halves for the first time so that was a good part.
“Yeah we spoke about it all week, it was an opportunity. Reagan [Campbell-Gillard] didn’t play last week and Jimmy [Tamou] only played 20 minutes and Mez [Trent Merrin] played a half. It was a good opportunity to give them a real good hit-out which was good.”
Griffin was unconcerned by Peachey’s underwhelming night and said the former utility back-rower was doing a good job in the centres.
“We’ll have a look at that before round one. We rested Dean Whare after half-time, he had a little bit of hamstring tightness so we took a precaution there,” Griffin added.
On the injury front, other than Whare, Griffin said there was no cause for concern following star recruit James Maloney twice staying down hurt.
“He’s all right, I think he got winded there once and copped a couple of knocks, he’s all right,” he said.
Kiwi flanker Dallin Watene-Zelezniak watched the match with his left ankle still in a brace but remained an outside chance of featuring in round one, according to Griffin.
“We’d expect Dallin will be pretty close for round one. From a fitness point of view it was a good hit out. The bumps and bruises won’t keep them out from round one so we move on,” he said.