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Melbourne Storm U20

The NYC Thunderbolts have made an impressive start to life on the Sunshine Coast.

Despite playing against more experienced and mature Queensland Cup opposition, Storm’s Under-20s side held their own during two 40-minute trials on Saturday.

Storm feeder teams Easts Tigers and Sunshine Coast Falcons provided valuable preparation for the Thunderbolts ahead of their Round 1 clash against the Dragons in three weeks.

The U20s recorded a 20-8 win over Easts Tigers in Game 1 and backed up an hour later with a strong showing against Sunshine Coast Falcons before being ultimately overrun 18-6.

It was the performance over Easts, who boasted many of their first-choice Queensland Cup players, which most impressed NYC coach Eric Smith.

“That was definitely our best performance out of the two. Physically our guys handled themselves really well,” he said.

“We played really fast… I thought we blew Easts Tigers off the park a little bit, they couldn’t keep up with the pace of the game we were playing at which is really pleasing.”

“That was an area of the game we addressed during the week.”

The promising performance on the weekend also showed that there was room for improvement heading into this Saturday’s trial against the Bulldogs at Belmore.

“I am going to definitely highlight the things that worked really well for us,” Smith said.

“These trials are the first stepping blocks to our season. We are looking to keep improving on these simple areas and keep doing that for longer periods of the game.

“Ball control is something that we need to work on. It hampered us in both halves and last week against the Titans. Our completion rate is sort of around the 50-60% mark in all three of our hit-outs now.

“That is the area we need to improve on before Round 1.”

Last Saturday marked the Thunderbolts’ home debut on the Sunshine Coast, with the team now calling the region home with 10 home games in 2016.

Smith said his side was already buoyed by the welcome they have received from the locals.

“Saturday was a pretty big event for everyone who supports the local teams up here,” he said.

“We have been getting lots of support right throughout the pre-season. Even last weekend and against Easts Tigers we had a lot of supporters travel to support us down there.”

“It has been really encouraging, we really appreciate the support and hopefully moving into Round 1, which is going to be a home game as well, we can have a really big crowd to kick the season off as well.”

Acknowledgement of Country

Melbourne Storm respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.