The Coastline Mariners may have started their North Island Championship rugby league campaign with a loss, but there are plenty of positives to come out of it.
The Coastline said went down 52-30 to the Taranaki Swords on home turf at Gordon Spratt Reserve on Saturday. It was the second round of the competition, the Mariners had the bye in week one, and coach Jock Nicholson says one of the positives from the defeat was a 24-point second half effort after trailing 28-6 at the break.
The game was a return to high-level competition for the Mariners, which is largely made up of Ōtūmoetai Eels and Pāpāmoa Bulldogs players, after they were removed from representative competition last season following defaults in 2017.
"It was good to see rep footy back and we had a good crowd," Nicholson says.
"It was not the desired result, we had a slow start and maybe there were a little bit of nerves and pressure. It was pleasing the boys were able to reflect at halftime and then go well in the second half. We learned a bit from that game and the aim is to have better starts in the future."
Nicholson says hooker Sam Johnstone was outstanding, while prop Tama Renton and Pone Kahotea also played well. The Mariners play the Northern Swords in Whangarei this Saturday, the start of a demanding seven days as they play Wellington in the capital next week.
"I think they will be better having got that first game out of the way. It is different at rep level, you get punished for mistakes.
"At one stage we made an 80-metre break and the ball got knocked out, it is those little things we have to get out of our game. Every game for us is going to be a good learning curve.
"We have to make sure we complete our sets and the individual players and the collective are focusing on that. When we have the ball, we have to make sure we do things well and then the defensive line needs to make sure they are talking."
The Swords beat the Manawatu Mustangs 24-20 to add to their 56-10 win over the Sharks in week one.
"The Northern Swords made it to the promotion game last year where they lost to Waikato," Nicholson says.
"It will be tough, we are going up there to win, but I want to see us improve."
Week two North Island Championship results:
Saturday, August 31:
Manawatu Mustangs 20, Northern Swords 24.
Coastline Mariners 30, Taranaki Sharks 25.
Draw for Saturday, September 7:
Norther Swords vs Coastline Mariners, Whangarei.
Taranaki Sharks vs Wellington Orcas, Hawera.
Manawatu Mustangs, bye.