There was plenty of pre-season fixtures to get stuck into this weekend with most played on Sunday but one of the Saturday games drew lots of attention.
Newcastle Thunder hosted Keighley Cougars with the Championship new boys rolling into town having added the likes of Ben Crooks and Luke Gale to their squad.
Despite Gale not featuring the Cougars built on their invincible 2022 campaign and beat Thunder 24-12 in Chris Thorman’s return to Kingston park.
Thorman returned to his native Newcastle having operated in the North-West last season as boss of Workington and the man who has led a recruitment drive of 15 players was pleased with what he saw, having made comments to the club website.
“I thought the first half was really tidy and I was really pleased with the lads’ performance. It was much more like a league game with the changes we made throughout, and I thought our starting middles were particularly good.
“Jay and Ted Chapelhow alongside Connor Bailey really controlled what we were doing, and Alex Foster and Brad Gallagher both carried strong. Alex also defended really well, putting his body in front of people.
“I felt we had a bit more good ball than them, we just needed to be more clinical in our finishing.”
Newcastle have added plenty, just like Keighley, with three World Cup internationals signing in the shape of Curtis Davies, Robert Tuliatu and Jamaica’s Alex Young, brother of England winger Dom.
All three featured and Thorman saw enough from his squad to be positive.
“I thought there were some good showings from players who have only recently joined up with the squad. Max Flanagan showed some nice touches and Nathan Rushworth, who might not be a big lad physically, but definitely made up for it in his intent and effort.
“We can take a lot of learnings from Saturday, we’ll get together as a group, review the footage and see how we can push forward.
“From a pre-season point of view though, there were a lot of boxes ticked and we can be generally satisfied with the performance.”