The four Kempsey Cannonballs players who represented the Mid North Coast Axmen at the NSW Country Championships have returned battered and bruised but have improved from the experience.
The Axemen suffered defeats in both of their tier one games, but they pushed both sides until the final minutes.
In their first clash, the Axemen suffered a 32-17 defeat on Saturday against the eventual champions Central West.
The Axemen then went down 31-25 in a close contest against the Central Coast on Sunday.
The four Cannonballs first grade players; Kini Dauvucu, Braden Farrawell, Iulio Tavete and Carl Thurgood agreed they picked up vital experience at the competition.
"It was great to see that level of footy being played," Farrawell told the Argus.
"It was basically the best players from country NSW in attendance so there was a lot to learn."
Farrawell said Thurgood, who is the Cannonballs first grade coach, will look to pass on the gathered knowledge to his players.
"It was good for Carl to be involved too. We learned a lot about set plays, line outs and all of that so it will be definitely something we can take back to the Cannonballs and teach the younger boys," Farrawell said.
The number eight, who was used as an impact player but still punched out 60-minutes in each game, praised the efforts of his Cannonballs teammates.
"Kini was used a lot in attack. We targetted him with high kicks and he produced a lot of flashy moments with flick passes," Farrawell said.
"Iulio was great as always in defence. He jammed a few players.
"Carl played the entirety of both games and was brilliant all across the park."
Farrawell crashed over for the final try in the Axemen's loss to the Central Coast.
Fellow first grade player Hugh Shannon also competed at the NSW Country Championships for the Axemen's Under-19s side.
"I didn't get to see much of his games but from what I did see, Hugh played really well and got involved a lot and had an impact," Farrawell said.
The Under-19s side also lost both of their games.
The Cannonbells were represented by Kempsey's Jess Grant, Shawnee Potts, Ruby Colling and Imeleta Tavete at the NSW Country Championships. The four girls, who lined up for the Mid North Coast Tomahawks narrowly missed out on reaching the final.
There will be more to come on their results later this week.
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