THE Greater Northern Tigers under-23s finished their CRL Country Championships with a defeat at the hands of the Northern Rivers Titans that was highlighted by a second half comeback at Armidale's Bellevue Oval on Saturday.
The Tigers - boasting Will Nieuwenhuise (Singleton), Cameron French (Aberdeen), Hamish Wolfgang (Aberdeen), James Bradley (Singleton), Isaac Austin (Scone), Jordan Mulherin (Denman), Brady Benkovic (Denman), Andrew Pritchard (Denman) and Harry Douglass (Aberdeen) - lost 34-10 but were down 28-0 at the break.
Tries to Matt Gillham andDouglass earned some pride for the side on a day where they started slowly against an energetic and crisp Titans.
Murwillumbah hooker Joseph Besgrove ignited Northern Rivers with some brilliant running from dummy half to put his side on the front foot.
The Titans played fast and had the Tigers retreating almost at will as they crossed for six first half tries.
"We were way off the pace in the first half," Tigers coach Peter Stevens conceded.
"We made too many mistakes and didn't win a tackle.
"We never completed our first four sets.
"Our effort in the second half was much better.
"We controlled it a bit better, too, and we showed in the second half we could match it with them.
"The Titans looked like world beaters in the first half but once we were able to get in the grind with them in the second, it was a different game.
"It was a credit to them to fight back in the second half.
"I was happy with that."
Fullback Nieuwenhuise, centre Wolfgang, prop James Ballinger and Benkovic were the pick of the Tigers.