University may have fallen to Bowral on Saturday afternoon, but coach Dion Miller walked away from the match pleased by what he saw.
The game was a closely-fought contest before Bowral pulled away late, ultimately prevailing 33-15.
Both sides sat out last season, with Miller prepared for a slow start to the year. Based on what he saw on Saturday, he's confident his team will return to the finals.
"We were pretty happy with the performance," Miller said. "We held them well until the end, then they got a couple of late tries. They had more match fitness than us and pulled away.
"We just need to get a couple of games under our belt and iron out those combinations. We've accepted the fact we'll start a bit slower and hopefully peak towards the end."
In a major boost for the club, Paul Tuala has been cleared to return after being medically retired two years ago. Veteran Donovan Nepia is also set to come out of retirement to play alongside his close friend.
Uni are also developing a talented crop of juniors, 17-year-old Zintori Makenel scoring in his first-grade debut on Saturday.
"We have a good mix of young guys and older guys," Miller said. "Donny is a great asset for us, coming in and helping with our young group going forward."
Uni's win came as Avondale produced a first-half blitz to defeat Vikings. The Wombats led 26-0 at halftime before winning 40-26.
Shamrocks also asserted their dominance over Tech, Paul Ridgway's side claiming a convincing 47-14 victory. Finally, Campbelltown defeated rivals Camden 41-20.