THE Northern Heat have impressed during their recent clash with a Gold Coast representative side in Byron Bay.
Gunnedah Bulldogs rising stars Jasper Thomas, Hayden Baker and Tom Maher held their own in the side's loss to their northern opponents.
Trailing by 10 goals at the final change, the Heat showed heart to finish the game strong and outscore their opponents in the final term.
AFL North West community football manager Paul Taylor said he was pleased the side's efforts.
"The Northern Heat program was all about developing the players and there's no better way to learn than to test yourselves against a strong opponent," Taylor said.
"For us, the measurement of the success of the program isn't on the scoreboard, it's looking at how much each individual developed and grew as footballers across the four sessions we staged."
Throughout the game, the Heat players were monitored with state-of-the-art GPS tracking.
The monitoring followed similar steps taken during the side's training sessions and practice match against the Burleigh Bombers.
The Bulldogs trio made a big impression on the squad with Maher telling the Namoi Valley Independent the side was on top for periods of the game.
"I reckon the boys went extremely well considering the team we were up against," Maher said.
"The first and last quarter were the best from the boys because of the intensity we put on the opposition."
After being selected for the squad late in 2018, the players enjoyed elite style training in the form of sessions with former Sydney Swans strength and conditioning coach Matt Pine.
"The Heat provided many positive experiences like fitness in the off season and preparing us for the upcoming season," Maher said.
"Also, our skills were worked on and we had many coaches and training exercises positively impacting on our overall playing style.
"I believe the program has made me more excited for the upcoming season and the game itself."