The Western Rams defeated Cessnock in a trial match on Saturday

SKIPPER: Western Rams captain Alex Ronayne was one of the side's best players in their trial win over the Cessnock Goannas. Picture: AMY MCINTYRE
SKIPPER: Western Rams captain Alex Ronayne was one of the side's best players in their trial win over the Cessnock Goannas. Picture: AMY MCINTYRE

It wasn't perfect but there were plenty of positive signs for the Western Rams open squad after they defeated the Cessnock Goannas in a trial match at Mudgee on Saturday.

Rams coach Cameron Greenhalgh believes the performance was an impressive one considering a lot of the players have not played a game since early August last year when both Group 10 and Group 11 competitions were suspended before being abandoned due to COVID-19.

"That's the reason I wanted to have a trial," he said.

"I suppose some boys haven't played footy for a while so it was about getting the feel for the footy again and not going into a championship game sort of not so much underdone but having a run under the belt so the confidence is there.

"That's so we can get rid of those mistakes early which did have a fair few of but it was good. I was pleased with the effort and the commitment of the boys."

The Rams will once again be led by Macquarie Raiders captain-coach Alex Ronayne in 2022 and Greenhalgh felt the former was one of the best players on the park if not the best.

"Alex Ronayne the captain was outstanding I thought," he said.

"He led and you wouldn't think it was a trial game the way he played it.

"I thought he was really good along with Casey Burgess upfront and Mitch Andrews and our halves controlled the game with their kicks which were good.

"It was a pretty well-rounded performance, there wasn't really a bad player.

"It was just our handling let us down at times, we could've put them to the sword and put them away but we let them back into it."

While they got the win, Greenhalgh and the Rams will now turn their attention to the opening game of the Men's Country Championships which is set to start in just under two weeks time.

"We've only had the one training run together and there was a couple of blokes we had to bring in because of players who were unavailable on the weekend," he said.

"Without too much under our belt, only an hour and a half or two hours training I was pleased with it. We can only improve from there and we'll have one or two training runs before the first game so hopefully, we can iron out a few things that really need work."

This season for the Rams will also be an interesting one with the squad set to play against each other for their respective clubs when the Peter McDonald Premiership begins in early April.

The Rams will open their Country Championships campaign against the Monaro Colts at Parkes' Pioneer Oval on February 27 in a match which acts as a big weekend for Western with the Open's Women's, 16s and 18s all to play in Parkes.

There's a sense of unfinished business motivating the Western Rams senior squad this year.

The men's side produced one of its best Country Championships campaigns last year but a narrow and somewhat contentious loss to Monaro proved costly as not even a convincing win over the Greater Northern Tigers was able to ensure a long-awaited semi-finals appearance.

The pain of that is still felt by coach Cameron Greenhalgh and captain Alex Ronayne and it's being used to drive the squad to new heights this year.

"There's been a bit of talk about unfinished business in the group chat," Greenhalgh said.

"We were that unlucky last year and the playing group was just about to hit its straps.

"We got dudded a bit at Monaro in a very close game where we were coming home on top and we won the next game well and the feeling was there that we could have done something special.

"There is a bit of burning desire within the group to go that bit better and make the semis and maybe the grand final."