Tigers earn their stripes in trial

IF preparation is key, Nathan Pearce has the Orange Tigers Central West AFL premiership defence off on the right foot.

The black and golds hosted the Penrith Rams at Country Club Oval on Saturday for the club’s first hit-out of the season and although official scores had the visitors well on top 17.10 (112) to 9.8. (61), Pearce says his club “took a lot from the match”.

“From my perspective, it was a good game for us,” Pearce said, looking beyond the score.

“The whole point of a trial game this early in the year is to see where we are fitness wise.

“We’ve also got a lot of new players at the club and at training you get a bit of an inkling as to who is a first grade player and I was able to see that on Saturday, I’ve got an idea of where they all fit now.”

Pearce admitted his side still has a way to go fitness wise.

That, though, will come naturally as the season progresses.

What impressed Pearce most was some of the play of the newest members of the Tigerland family, with full forward Christian Kelly one to catch the eye of the premiership winning mentor.

“Christian presented well,” Pearce said of his newest forward-line target.

“Obviously the delivery will need to get better, we haven’t done a lot of ball work this year yet, but I was impressed with the way Christian Kelly played.

“Tim Barry, Daniel Bruce, Michael Rothnie, they all led the way for us.”

Pearce also mentioned Joel Ryder and Josh McKinnon as recent arrivals to watch.

“We’ll hit the training paddock over the next couple of weeks and work hard on our game style ... setting up our backline structures, mid-field structures and forward line structures,” he added.

“I took a lot out of the game.”

The Tigers will continue pre-season training at the Country Club Oval each tuesday and Thursday from 6.30pm.

Pearce said he was keen for the club to continue what has been a fruitful recruitment drive to start the Tigers’ quest for back-to-back first grade flags.

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