GUNDAGAI coach Cameron Woo believes Albury Thunder is on track for more Group 9 rugby league glory after the Tigers were smashed 32-4 at Greenfield Park on Saturday.
The reigning premier never looked threatened in a rematch of last year’s grand final.
Lou Goodwin, Mitch Davis and Jake Grace dominated the opening-round clash.
“They look like they have kicked off where they left off,” Woo said.
“They are a quality team and will be a force to beat this year.”
Despite going into the clash with a limited trial match preparation, Albury soon slipped into a rhythm with Mitch Seaton crossing the line at the 10-minute mark.
Grace followed up nine minutes later and Ben Jeffery gave the home team a comfortable 16-0 half-time buffer when he scored, thanks to a 25-metre break from Goodwin.
It was much of the same in the second half with Jeffery, Joe Silafu and Daniel Jacobs scoring before Gundagai’s Damian Willis finally gave Tiger supporters something to cheer about when he out-jumped Jacobs from a well-placed kick with eight minutes left on the clock.
Thunder forward Andrew Cowhan and Tiger Mark Elphick were sin-binned midway through the second-half.
Thunder coach Josh Cale was satisfied with the effort.
“It wasn’t one of our best games, but we were probably short of a match,” Cale said.
“Considering the scoreline, we will take a lot out of the game.
“I thought our defence was good today.
“There were a few mistakes and penalties in the first half which cruelled us and that’s something we need to work on.
“Overall though, I thought the boys did pretty well.”
Goodwin and Davis were the stand-outs with a series of punishing runs while Grace looks to be an improved player following surgery last year.
Jeffery and Chris and Mitch Seaton were dangerous every time they went near the ball.
Woo said Goodwin, Davis, Jeffery and Grace had laid the foundations for the win.
“They have been together for a few years and know each others playing styles,” Woo said.
“As long as they have those core guys in the team, they never really have a bad game.
“They just roll off them.”
Big Rulon Nutira impressed on debut for Gundagai with some strong runs.
Albury will be without Jon Huggett for the opening month of the season, because of his work commitments.