MEN'S coach Rod Richards believes South Coast have earned Hunter Central Coast's respect in a 41-point representative loss at Newcastle.
Wollongong Bulldogs star Aaron Jory was named best-on-ground in a beaten cause, as South Coast, featuring Bomaderry's Jack Boxsell, trailed by 16 points at quarter-time and fought hard to stay in touch on Saturday night, eventually conceding 12.16 (88) to 6.11 (47).
The game came after South Coast didn't play a representative fixture last year and have previously dominated contests against Sapphire Coast.
Discussion have already opened about the Black Diamond League travelling to play in Wollongong next year.
"Certainly in the second and third quarters we were right there with them," Richards said.
"We didn't get the result, but all the boys talked about how much they enjoyed the challenge of taking on a good league. And we were certainly competitive, I didn't think we were far away at all, even though it was 40 points in the end.
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"Everyone was committed to being part of this and we can build on it for the next few years as well."
Kiama midfielder Jack Mahony and Lions talent Jake Hogarth were also among South Coast's best in defeat.
The representative round also broke new ground for the South Coast women's league by playing in their inaugural representative game against Hunter Central Coast.
In just the women's competition's second season, South Coast, co-coached by Bomaderry's Geoff Gibbs and featuring Tigers' Sam Weir, Emma Dowse, Sophie Phillips, Jess Thomas, Jess Liddiard and Bridget Kellett, were outclassed 12.21 (93) to 2.0 (12).