IT may have started with two “underwhelming” knockout performances, but Orange CYMS coach Mick Sullivan is more than happy with the way the green and golds bounced back to finish their 2013 pre-season campaign.

Folding under strong expectations with round one exits in both the West Wyalong and the Bathurst knockouts, Sullivan’s men went head-to-head with a strong Queanbeyan Blues line-up on Saturday and came out on top 38-26 at Waratahs Sportsground.

And, more pleasingly for Sullivan, his red-hot backline clicked.

Playing in the centres, gun recruits Ali Beale and Ben McAlpine shone while halves Warick Colley and Dom Maley steered the ship in CYMS’ most complete trial effort yet.

Sullivan said he was stoked with the win and labelled his squad ready for the round one derby versus Orange Hawks in 10 days.

“We looked sharp and for the first time our backline got a bit of depth about it. I’m confident if we maintain that depth sides are going to find us pretty tough to handle this season starting with round one,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said it was tough to gauge where his side stood following the knockout losses to the Bidgee Hurricanes in West Wyalong and rivals Hawks in Bathurst.

However, Sullivan was only ever concerned about how his team shaped up in its first full match.

“Obviously it has been a bit underwhelming, a few people probably expected us to go a bit better than we did in the shorter format but I was only worried about our first 80-minute hit-out,” the premiership-winning captain-coach said.

“We went into the game with a squad of 18 and Sarge (Brett Sargent) picked up an AC dislocation and we lost Josh Nixon after about 10 minutes, but with 16 we were still able to get over the top of a pretty big Queanbeyan side.”

Sargent will be sidelined with his shoulder injury for close to six weeks while Nixon’s departure in the trial was simply precautionary.

Sullivan expected the Blayney junior to be ready for round one.

The former NRL rake said however pleasing it was to see his backline fire, the ability of his forward pack to roll through the middle of the ruck was crucial in 2013.

“We’ll have Ryan Prevett ready for round one, and Des Knight has been strong for us too,” Sullivan said, not likely to return from a hamstring injury until round three of the Group 10 premier league season.

“I was impressed with Des last year. He was one of the few props we had to step up against Lithgow. Young Cameron Jones got through a heap of work too. We’ll probably go into round one with the same side.”

GET OUT OF MY WAY: CYMS’ Ben McAlpine tests the Queanbeyan Blues defence in a trial match at Waratahs Sportsground last Saturday. CYMS won 38-26 to finish the pre-season on a high. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 0323league1

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