Central North's women's side might not have picked up a win but coach Dale Beattie couldn't have been prouder of the Kookaburras efforts at the weekend's Country Championships in Tamworth.
It was for many of the side their first taste of 15s rugby, but they acquitted themselves well. The side featuring Red Devils' Fiona Laurie, Abby Nortrup, Sarah Stewart, Torika Nadruku and Bec Smyth came the closest of any side to eventual champions Central West, going down 10-nil to kick off their campaign.
A 15-5 loss to Newcastle Hunter on Sunday morning completed their weekend, Sarah Byrne crossing in the second half for their first try of the tournament.
One of the hallmarks of the Kookaburras performance was their defence.
In all three games they held their opposition out for long periods of time, Beattie remarking after their 12-nil loss to Illawarra in their second game on Saturday that he couldn't have asked for more from them defensively.
He noted that against both the Illawarriors and Blue Bulls neither side scored a try from further than 20m out.
"But unfortunately we gave them too much ball in our own half and allowed them to build too much pressure upon us. And in the game of 15s, when you're playing bigger, stronger sides, they're very very hard to stop 20m out from the line when they're just rolling, rolling, rolling forward," he said.
It is a very different game to the sevens which they are more accustomed to playing, but Beattie didn't think that was a big factor.
"One thing that sevens does is it allows them to really develop their one-on-one skills dramatically," he said.
"We've also been able to put a program in place where we've been able to work on their 15s skills for a number of weeks and the girls have committed to that program."
"We've only had one week off in about five or six weeks so we've been able to do those finer parts like the scrum and the difference in the lineouts."
He said a couple of the girls took some convincing to play 15s and was delighted with the overall response. They picked a wider squad of 30 from which they selected 24 for the weekend.
It's a stark contrast to the days of having to recruit players or combine with other zones, and Beattie said a credit to the Central North competition.
"There's seven clubs now with women's sides," he said.
"We hope to build on that next year and hopefully we can keep this squad together for a number years and just keep building and building and building."