Macquarie Raiders coach Anthony Egan-Smith didn't really know what to expect from his side in the weekend's opening round of the Western under 21s competition.
The competition is the first of its kind in the region and the Raiders' squad featured local juniors as well as a number of Nyngan Tigers, who don't have their own 21s side, and players from other towns around the region eager for a run.
So after trying to bring a new-look squad together in three weeks there was a sense of the unknown but Egan-Smith had no reason to worry as his Raiders ran out 38-4 winners over Woodbridge on Saturday at Apex Oval.
"It was really pleasing," he said.
"I wasn't sure how we'd go and we'd really only had one run with the ball so I was really happy with how they gelled and it's only up from here, hopefully."
The Raiders' win was part of a bumper afternoon of action as Dubbo CYMS and Forbes also ran out at Apex.
CYMS produced an eye-catching performance in that match and scored a 24-4 victory while in the other round one match, Bathurst St Pat's downed Orange CYMS 38-8 at home.
"Both games were high quality," Egan-Smith said of the Apex double-header.
"It was the first game of the year but the intensity was good and so was the ball control. They were two good games to watch."
For the Raiders, the Nyngan connection stood out in a strong all-round effort.
Terrance Ryan and Sonny Knight both scored with Jak Jeffrey was another shining light in the victory.
"Our whole forward pack was good and pretty even," Egan-Smith said.
"Our centres too, Sonny and Dale Smith, and Jak Jeffrey as well. He's normally a hooker and played at five-eighth and was good so it was hard to pick a 3-2-1 after the match."
Smith, Tristan Delany, Riley Fernando, and Macauley Ryan also crossed in the win.
While the performances were on thing, the coach was most pleased to see so many youngsters keen.
The year off because of COVID played a part but the chance to run out alongside players of a similar age also attracted a number of players.
Previously, players would enter the senior ranks after finishing the under 18s but this competition has been designed to keep players in the game.
"It's good for the boys," Egan-Smith said.
"This 21s is a great idea and some in my team haven't been playing. They've been playing rugby or given up because they were a bit smaller or unsure about playing against the older players.
"I just want them to keep on improving and keep playing rugby league, not go back to rugby.
"They can be better players and handle playing against some bigger bodies and that might show them they can mix it with the bigger boys."
The Raiders and CYMS will be at home again next weekend.
Egan-Smith's side meets Orange CYMS while the Fishies will take on St Pat's.