THE Scone Brumbies opened their Central North Rugby Union campaign with a tough trip away to Bingara to take on the Barraba Rams on Saturday.
After a hard-fought battle Scone failed to put enough daylight between the scores as Barraba crossed for a try on full time to level the margin.
A failed Barraba conversion attempt from the sideline saw the scores locked at 24 all.
Despite the disappointment of the late equaliser, the result was put into perspective by co-coach Chris Comerford.
"We should hold our heads high. We started the season in difficult circumstances with injury and a long trip away and have managed to come away with a relatively positive result. The boys should be really proud of their effort," he said.
Saturday also saw the much-anticipated return of Doug Mckillop who spent a season in the Newcastle competition and Tim Maddocks who was sidelined last year due to injury.
Both players were quick to show their worth, with Maddocks crossing twice in the first half and Mckillop impressing with his hard-running style of rugby. Importantly, the big man Mckillop managed to score a timely try late in the game from a well-worked counter attacking play initiated by Alex Pay.
Sam Casson provided much needed depth to the squad filling in at flyhalf when vice-captain and co-coach Zach Allbon was forced to leave the field after dislocating his shoulder, unfortunately ending his impressive start to the game.
To add further merit to his performance, it was discovered that Allbon had fractured his ribs in his first contact of the game and had played through despite injury until the midway point of the second half.
For the final quarter of the game, Casson formed a strong partnership with number 12 Alex Pay who was a standout.
Lock James Lazarus also showed his experience by leading the forwards around with unrelenting energy and, in doing so, earned man of the match honours from the coaches.
In the earlier match of the day, a depleted Scone Brumbies' reserve grade side were outclassed by tough opposition in the Gwydir River Rats.
The Brumbies will aim to improve on their performances when they travel to Narrabri to face the Blue Boars on the 27th of April.
Scone will then play host to Inverell on May 4 at Sir Owen Glen Scone Rugby Park.
This will be their first home game of the 2019 season and the Brumbies look forward to seeing all the Scone faithful out there to cheer on the boys.