WESTS coach Pete McLeod left Parrish Park with some headaches on Saturday, all of the welcome variety, following his side’s 46-12 win over Queanbeyan in their Challenge Cup opener.
Even with a host of regular stars sidelined, McLeod’s youthful Devils posted three second-quarter tries to lead 16-6 at halftime and ran in a further five in the second half to hand the visiting Blues a 34-point defeat.
In the absence of regular starting halves Justin Rodrigues and Zac Greene, young recruit Tony Pellow was the standout, laying on three tries and producing a 70-metre solo effort on the stroke of halftime.
It proved a crucial play, giving the hosts a 10-point buffer at the break after they trailed 6-0 early on the back of a try to Blues back-rower Jordan Baker. With a number of stars set to return in the coming weeks, it was a pleasing outing for McLeod.
“It was a good performance, there was plenty of effort and commitment,” McLeod said.
“There’s plenty to work on, it’s still early on. It was a good win but we’re not getting carried away with it. They’ve been competing really hard with each other the last six weeks at training and that was another step today.
“I challenged the guys beforehand to not treat it as a trial game, treat it as an opportunity to start our year. Whatever I’ve asked them to do over the summer, especially the last six weeks, they’ve jumped at, so I expected that from them.”
The Blues led early when a chip-kick from halfback Cody Wynnik bounced favourably for Baker for the only try of the opening quarter. The Devils hit back in the second with Kurt Field producing an athletic grab of a perfectly placed kick from Pellow.
Colby Pellow crossed off a beautiful cut-out pass from Luke Towers on their next visit to the Blues end before Tony’s solo dash gave them a 16-6 lead at the main break.
Towers crossed soon after the resumption with Pellow providing the assist on both of Jimmy Grehan’s second-half four pointers. Lachlan Hurst also had a runaway effort while youngster Mitch Phillips also bagged a try. Josh Stuckey produced the Blues lone second-half try.
McLeod is expecting a number of the absentees back for this weekend’s clash with Berkeley and is hopeful of having all hands on deck – including marquee signing Glenn Stewart – for their third Cup game against Dapto.
“Glenn will play in the preseason, we haven’t really decided when yet but he will get a game in,” McLeod said.
“We’ll get a couple back next week [against Berkeley] and we’ll probably get a couple more back against Dapto so hopefully they’ll all get a trial in.
“With the young side we have, you have to have competition for spots there. The boys are competing in everything they do at training, they’re competing on the field and making it hard for me to pick a team which is good.”
In other fixtures, Berkeley defeated Dapto 22-8 at home, Thirroul beat Helensburgh 20-0 at Rex Jackson Oval while Collegians defeated Corrimal 56-0.