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Pictured: The successful Kirwan State High team.

There is nothing like a quality game of schoolboys rugby league to welcome in the 2015 season.

And that is what was witnessed at Denison Park, Bowen on Tuesday afternoon when Kirwan State High School from Townsville met St Patricks College from Mackay in a pre-season trial game.  

The game was not only in preparation for the upcoming regular season, but also for the highly contested Aaron Payne Cup.  Kirwan Bears are defending the title; and proved to be too strong for their Mackay counterparts in the trial game. 

Kirwan Bears coach Dave Ackers was happy with his players’ performances. 

“It was a good hit out, and gave us a chance to dust out the cobwebs, see what needs to be done, and where we want to go,” he said. 

Ackers said all players worked hard together but he nominated forward Caleb Fuimaono and second-rower Duarne Dempsey as standouts.  

“Fuimaono got the team going forward with some strong carries and Dempsey was threatening in attack, carrying the ball forward with plenty of purpose.” 

St Patricks Mackay coach Chad Buckby was equally impressed with the efforts of his players.  “Kirwan are a very strong team, and it was a great learning experience for our boys.” 

Buckby nominated the two halves, Josh Kirby at halfback, and Brayden Lamb at five-eighth as stand out performers.  

“Both halves had quality games directing the play around the paddock, and sticking to structures,” he said.

Forward Rhys Bella also earned the coach’s praise. 

“Rhys had some strong carries in the middle, and really toughed it out in defence.  He also communicated well on the field.”

While the Bears are keen to defend the Aaron Payne Cup title, St Pats are confident they can perform well in the hotly contested competition.