RSL-Colts started its title defence with a win on Saturday and captain Marty Jeffrey said the feeling in the squad now might be even better than it was during their all-conquering 2020/21 campaign.
Colts was the dominant force in last season's RSL Whitney Cup and the men in red kicked off the new season by downing a powerful CYMS side by a narrow six runs in a grand final rematch.
Plenty was expected from the match, with Colts still featuring a loaded lineup on paper while an already strong CYMS side has been further boosted by the additions of Brock Larance and Ben Patterson for this summer.
But Colts remain the top dogs in the competition after winning the Twenty20 season opener.
"The big thing for us is that it was a massive mental win," Jeffrey said.
"Coming out of last year, where we had so much success and a really good vibe around the group, and with the talk around town about guys coming back for CYMS and a few other clubs picking up players it was a really big game for us to get back together as a group and feel those good vibes as a group and just get back into the swing of cricket and believing we are the best team in Dubbo."
The vibe was there for Colts as Brad Cox and Jeffrey combined for a key third-wicket stand after hard-hitters Charlie Kempston (3) and Mitch Bower (9) departed early following the premiers' decision to bat first.
The pair added 60 runs before Jeffrey fell for an important 35 from 40 balls.
Cox kept things ticking over and finished 50 not out as his side made 5/126 from its 20.
Jeffrey felt that was a little below par but the experience in the Colts' bowling attack made the difference.
After young tearaway Riley Keen claimed the huge wickets of Brock Larance (3) and Tom Coady (0), Colts took wickets at regular intervals and CYMS could only manage 9/120 in reply.
"Everyone was confident, even knowing the side CYMS had," Jeffrey said.
"That experience helps and everyone backed their own skills and the plans we've got.
"I think the vibe this year is nearly even better than last year with the young guys being a year older and the energy they're brining, even in the field, makes it a great place to be and you enjoy cricket every Saturday."
The partnership between the captain and veteran run machine Cox was a crucial part of the game, and Jeffrey admitted had one of the pair departed early his side would have been playing catch-up the rest of the innings.
That was the situation CYMS found itself in after Thomas Nelson (0) also went early to leave the Cougars reeling at 3/14.
Patterson (28 off 22) threatened to hit his side back into the game but the spin of Bower (2/16 off four) and Jeffrey (2/26 off four) changed the tide.
Phalak Kumar, another newcomer for CYMS this season, top-scored with 31 in the unsuccessful chase while Keen finished with 2/24 and Ben Taylor chimed in with 2/23.
It was a good game and they're the type of games you want to play.Marty Jeffrey
"Getting those key ones at the top for not many, they're key wickets and it broke the game open for us," Jeffry said.
"Riley Keen bowled really well at the top for us and really hit the deck hard. It was then swinging back CYMS' way when Patto was there and he can take the game away from you and he looked like he was going to but we went to spin and got him and then it swung around again.
"But it was a good game and they're the type of games you want to play."
Elsewhere on Saturday, Mat Skinner may no longer be the captain at Newtown but he proved in round one he'll still be the main man for the Tigers in 2021/22.
Skinner, who has stepped back from the top job and handed it to Mitch Russo, led from the front in his side's convincing RSL Whitney Cup win over South Dubbo.
The Western Zone all-rounder opened both the batting and bowling in the opening round clash and he delivered in both aspects of the game.
Skinner whacked 53 from 47 balls at the top of the order to guide his side to 7/154 in the Twenty20 clash before taking a miserly 1/1 from two overs with the ball.
Mitch Lincoln (3/19) and Steve Skinner (2/8) also contributed with the ball as a young Souths side was restricted to 7/94.
The damage was done early as opening batsmen Skinner and Dan French (11) put on 36 for the first wicket before Theme Rawat (36 from 37) and Syed Ali Raza (20 from 13), both newcomers to the side, ensured there was no drop in momentum.
Skinner was the main man though and hit six boundaries in his knock to guide the Tigers to a strong total.
Teenagers Lockie Rummans (3/33) and Rudy Peet (2/36) performed well with the ball for Souths but no Hornets batsman was able to go on and make the big score required in the chase.
Ted Murray made 35 from 42 balls but struggled to fund support as Souths fell 60 runs short.
In Saturday's other match, Macquarie proved far too good for Rugby.
A clinical all-round bowling performance was key as the Blues restricted Rugby to 5/88 from their 20 overs.
The run chase was a relatively simple one and the target was reached with six overs and eight wickets to spare.
Lachlan Strachan (2/19) and Will Skinner (2/14) produced fine four-over spells for Macquarie while Ben Strachan (1/25 off four), new recruit Blake Smith (0/17 off four), and Dan Medway (0/3 off two) all played key roles.
Nathan Munro top-scored for Rugby with 29.
Lachlan Strachan capped a fine all-round performance by making 33 in the run chase and while he fell before the target was reached, brother Ben (13 not out) and Myles Smith (25 not out) ensured Macquarie got the job done with minimal fuss.
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