NORTH East Worcestershire Ravens Director of Rugby Jason Spafford praised the efforts of his players, despite losing their Midlands Rugby League Premier Division opener to last year’s Grand Final winners Telford Raiders.
A 54-16 loss began with the Ravens starting the game with a man disadvantage, before winger Tom Jones eventually joined his team-mates on the pitch, although a couple of injuries during the game made the telling difference.
Spafford remained positive, and looks forward to seeing how his side fare with a full squad available to him.
“I’m proud of the lads today, the first game is always hard especially when numbers are affected,but they all went out and worked well together and played some brilliant rugby.
“I want to say a massive thank you and well done to our five debutants who played brilliantly and have fitted in to the squad easily.
“We look on to next week and keep our heads held high after a tough game against champions and still tested them with less players.
“A lot of positives can be taken away from today.”
Despite only having 12 players on the pitch, debutant Chris Sharpe scored the first try of the game, before Telford eventually found their rhythm and hit back with two quickfire scores.
Jones then joined the fray, beginning his second season at the club, and made an immediate impact by receiving the ball, bursting down the wing and crossing the try line in the corner, converted by David Wimbury.
Telford hit back to lead 18-10 at the break, but a knee injury sustained by new signing Jake Field reduced Ravens to 12 men once more.
Ravens remained undeterred in the face of adversity, scoring a converted try through captain Liam Dunne, again converted by Wimbury.
But as soon as they were able to bring themselves back into contention, they were hampered further by a second injury of the game, when Sharpe suffered a rib injury and reduced Ravens to 11 men with 20 minutes to play.
Despite the best efforts of the hosts, Raiders took advantage of the gaps on the pitch to find three further tries to comfortably run away with victory.
NEW Ravens look to hit back with a full-strength side away at Leamington Royals on Saturday (2:30pm).