MANNING Ratz coach Danial Stone said he took plenty of positives from his side’s opening round performance against Gloucester in Lower North Coast rugby union.
The Ratz lost 26-12.
However, Stone pointed out he has around five players to add to the side and he believes the Cockies will be the side to beat for premiership honours this year.
“They’re the benchmark,’’ Stone said.
“We’ll be all the better for that run. I thought we showed plenty of spirit to hit back in the second half.’’
Gloucester’s smart backline caused the Ratz plenty of problems and the visitors had opened a 20 point game at one stage before Manning rallied.
Stone said back rower Sam Hartnett worked solidly while Chris Fitzsimmons and Reece Holden both tried hard.
He hopes the Ratz will be closer to full strength for Saturday’s game against the Old Bar Clams at Old Bar.
It was at Taree Rugby Park that the upset of the Kennards Hire competition occurred. Having kept a low profile in the pre-season, the Gloucester Cockies stunned the Manning River Ratz with their pair of “hard heads”, Chris Marchant and Jamie “Emu” Andrews, back as play-makers, overcoming last year’s finalists for a bonus point win, 26-12.