IT wasn’t quite the grand final rematch of last year.
The first half was barely midway through and the Warratahs had a 15-3 jump over the Albury Steamers who had to dig deep to stem the flow.
And the reigning premiers had to dig deeper still when centres Pat Williams and Andy Connell came off the ground with injuries.
But coach Mick Raynes said that if there was any premiership hangover it was in the way that his side came back to win the game 32-29.
“I think it’s indicative of this group, and this is the hangover from last year — that there’s a real never-say-die attitude,” he said.
“I think games may be closer this year but we’re not going to give games up lightly.”
Even after a sluggish start Raynes said the Steamers never lost belief in their ability.
And though 11 players from last year’s grand final have moved on or retired, there’s still plenty of talent.
“We were very positive, very upbeat the whole time,” Raynes said.
“We always knew we had it within us to manage the game — it was just really a matter of putting into practice our attacking patterns and keeping our defence solid.
“It was like the first half was a training run and once we got the rolling patterns going we clawed our way back into the game — I think it took a lot of heart.”
Tries through Gareth Edwards, Liam Krautz, Lucas Boye and Richard Manion tipped the game in the Steamers’ favour, with plenty of the youngsters contributing.
“(Hooker) Gareth Edwards had a whale of a game,” Raynes said.
“And Tom Rowan did a mountain of work in the second row while Brad Nayler’s enthusiasm on the wing gave the back line a lot of impetus.”
But despite the result Raynes wasn’t about to get ahead of himself.
“I’d still have them as premiership favourites,” he said.
“They looked pretty good and had a few guys out. And we’ve got a lot to work on.
“But they’re young and they’re really willing to learn.
“It’s really important to the club that the individuals don’t want to let each other down.
“That commitment to each other will be really important throughout the year — every game is going to be hard for us this year
“I don’t think we’re going to be given an easy game.”