The toughest swords are forged in the hottest fires.
For Orange Barbarians' league tag - a side that features a stack of new players for the 2020 season - the opposition it faced at Canowindra's Western Challenge on Sunday are arguably tougher than anyone they'll see during this year's Wallerawang Landscaping Cup and skipper Jess Toohey says her squad will only improve from the experience.
"It really helps build your confidence when you play a few games with lots of new players," Toohey said.
"We got to trial a few players in new positions which was good. We had some really keen and enthusiastic girls."
When the Bar Bars lost 18-0 to West Belconnen in the first game of they day, they might have been disappointed with their efforts.
But, when they saw the ACT powerhouse cruise to the grand final before taking out Central West top dogs St Pat's, they felt much better about the way they held themselves against an elite side, conceding just three tries.
"That was an awesome effort from us considering they ended up winning the competition," she said.
League tag coach Jake Kelly has touted his squad as one of the teams to beat in this year's Landscaping Cup and when asked if the girls had the potential to play deep into the finals, Toohey shared the same confidence Kelly did.
We got to trial a few players in new positions which was good. We had some really keen and enthusiastic girlsJess Toohey
"We've got so much drive and enthusiasm and if you want to win a comp you need those two things," she said.
"We had a good crack in last year's finals and we're only going to build on that.
"I feel we have the ability to go really well."
Coach Jake Kelly praised several of the girls who competed at Canowindra, highlighted three of them who really stood out.
"Chloe Hughes, Jordy Dickerson and Fiona Geddes were outstanding for us," Kelly said.
Not only was the coach happy with those select few players, he was proud of the entire roster and said not only was the effort sensational, but so was the players' ability to move to new spots on the field and still perform well.
"The girls obviously had a few positional changes throughout the day but look very promising with everyone stepping up and giving it their best," he said.
"We had a lot of new players and some older heads too. To see them gel the way they did was phenomenal."
The performances were encouraging but the Barbarians weren't able to register a win on the day, and while Kelly isn't holding that against them, he's pinpointed the improvements his team needs to make.
"We need to work on communication and helping the newer girls out a bit more but overall, it all looks very promising."
- We have removed our paywall from our stories about the coronavirus. This is a rapidly changing situation and we to make sure our readers are as informed as possible. If you would like to support our journalists you can subscribe below