The 2018 Christie and Hood Castlereagh competition kicked off on Saturday with the much talked about grand final replay between the Coonamble Bears and the Gilgandra Panthers.
The match at Coonamble was given match of the round status but unfortunately for the strong crowd in attendance the game never rose to any great heights.
In a classic opening round match it was a somewhat scrappy affair with ball security a concept not fully embraced by either side.
Running with a strong breeze at their backs, many thought that an 18-0 lead late in the first half may not have been enough points for the Gilgandra, and certainly a converted intercept try in the final minute of the opening stanza to Coonamble five eight Andrew Wallace would have given the Bears and their supporters some degree of hope as they went to the sheds down by 12.
However, it was to be the visitors who went on with it in the second half with three rapid-fire tries to their captain coach Jamie Towney, adding to the one that he scored in the first half, putting the game well and truly out of Coonamble’s reach.
Despite running into the wind, the Panthers notched 32 points to Coonamble’s six after half time to register a 50-12 victory and signal that, despite the loss of nine players from last year’s premiership winning side, they mean business when it comes to defending their title.
In other games, the Trangie Magpies also knocked up a half century, winning the battle of the black and whites, defeating Baradine 50-18 after leading 22-12 at the break, while at Binnaway the home side fell short in their initial comeback game, going down to the Dunedoo Swans 36-28 in a close-fought match.
The final game was played at Gulgong with the Terriers hosting the Cobar Roosters. The visitors were well pleased with their victories in both the Youth League and the league tag however, the home side prevailed i the main game and won 40-22.
Round two of the competition will be played on Sunday this weekend due to the fact three Castlereagh League representative teams will be participating in the Western Rams cluster day at Bathurst’s Jack Arrow Oval on Saturday.