MITCH Wilbow's first-half double set the tone as the Port Macquarie Sharks cruised to a 34-4 victory over Taree City in Port Macquarie on Saturday.
Wilbow crossed for his first try inside the first minute as the Sharks raced out to a 22-0 lead at the break.
In a match where both sides were ravaged by injuries and unavailabilities, the Bulls had no answer to a Sharks side that did what they needed to.
Coach Ben Kirkland was pleased to see what they had trained for during the week have the desired result early in the match.
"You look back to the Kempsey game and we started very average, but we trained for that shape all week and it paid off early for us," he said.
He admitted his side were good for 50 of the 80 minutes and it was their defensive application that was the most pleasing.
"Defensively we were really good and let a try in late, but that's what happens when you keep dropping the ball in your own end," he said.
"Our slide defence especially looked really good and we've been doing a lot of work on it so it's good that it's paying off."
Kirkland was looking for experienced leaders such as Joey Cudmore, James Kelly and Scott Grant to take his young team under their wing.
They did exactly that.
"They were outstanding; they are every week," Kirkland said.
"Kel plays above his weight, so does Scotty, they're not big bodies, but they play like they're 115 kilos and Joey's just Joey.
"He's a competitor; he loves to win and you need those blokes in your side."
It wasn't pretty but we'll take the two points.Ben Kirkland
The Sharks coach conceded it was a scrappy game at times.
"It wasn't pretty but we'll take the two points," he said.
"It puts us back in the positive which is good, but if we won by two it was still the same result. You've got to get the points on the board and get the win.
"For and against will help at the back end of the year I think it will be pretty close competition. We can't concentrate too much on that at the moment."
Taree City coach Todd Bridge conceded he had concerns about their performance when there wasn't "a lot of talk" in the warm-up.
"We spoke about Mitch at the start and the first play he ran around us; it's just not acceptable," he said.
We spoke about Mitch at the start and the first play he ran around us; it's just not acceptable.Todd Bridge
Bridge said his team's attitude was nowhere near good enough.
"We had a few blokes out, but these 17 we had are all first graders," he said.
"None of them wanted to turn up and it's quite disappointing the whole performance but credit to Port, they stuck it to us in the first half and they're a good side. We just didn't aim up.
"We had three blokes pull out on Tuesday, another two last night and one this morning (so) I think all the boys made excuses and didn't want to be here."