WITH the full 2023 Peter McDonald Premiership draw we've sifted through every game on the calendar and taken a look at some of the biggest matches.
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There's not just great games lined up in the top grade, but there's also a stack of interesting under 18s, reserve grade and league tag contests on the cards.
We've got grand final rematches, intriguing derbies and some clubs taking a step up into a new competition.
While you're here, you can take a look at the full 2023 Western draw for all four grades with this link.
Now, onto the eight games that we think will feature must-watch football...
THE first ever Tom Nelson Under 18s champions, Nyngan Tigers, get a great test right away in the 2023 season when they travel to play the Cowra Magpies.
It's always a big challenge for an under 18s team to try and go back-to-back, knowing that several players will age out of the side, but they'll be hungry to make it happen.
There's still plenty of talent in this Tigers side, including Will and Cooper Black, Fletcher Hunt and Braith Boyd, and after the team won Nyngan their first title of any kind since 1983 they'll have the whole club behind them in their quest to keep the wins coming.
They come up against a Magpies side who were second only to Bathurst Panthers among the Group 10 teams in last year's under 18s competition.
The two sides did come together during the 2022 regular season when they played out a great contest at Larkin Oval, which the Tigers won 26-16.
Magpies were unfortunate not to progress further in the previous finals series after they were knocked out by eventual grand finalists St Pat's in the opening week in a very physical, close match.
THE two clubs who have been the benchmark in their respective Group 10 and 11 competitions ever since league tag started in the region will finally have the chance to play one another in a regular season match.
We'll only have to wait two rounds to watch the St Pat's and Dubbo CYMS come together for their highly anticipated clash at Bathurst.
To say that these sides have dominated league tag in the Western region feels like an understatement.
St Pat's have won six of the nine Group 10 competitions, including the last four in a row, while Dubbo CYMS have taken out three of the six Group 11 seasons and will be shooting for a third straight premiership in 2023.
Don't read too much into the Saints' 28-0 hammering of CYMS in last year's post-season premier's challenge.
When this game rolls around it will be far more likely that both clubs will be able to bring a full strength squad to the field.
BLAYNEY make the step up to the new Western reserve grade competition this year and they'll get thrown into the deep end with a home game against St Pat's followed by a trip to play Lithgow Workies in round two.
The Bears are the odd ones out this season, as they'll only be fielding a reserve grade and league tag side, so they'll want to get the most out of their two-team Western attack.
Their round two match against Workies will be a rematch of last year's Group 10 elimination semi-final that was played in slow, muddy conditions in Bathurst.
That finals match was in the balance right until the final stages, where Workies evetually won the messy game 16-6.
The Bears and Wolves have great history in Group 10, especially during their respective heydays in the '90s.
Blayney won four premierships in that decade, with two of those grand final wins coming against Lithgow.
One of the competition's greatest rivalries.
When this day comes around there's sure to be plenty of traffic on the Newell Highway and there's considerably less of a wait compared to last year.
In the 2022 season, this fixture didn't come until round nine with Parkes flogging the Magpies 34-14 at home.
However, Forbes was timing its run to perfection with a 20-12 win over the Spacies at Spooner Oval in round 15 kick-starting the campaign towards a dream grand final victory.
Both sides have lost their inspirational leaders in Jake Grace and Jack Creith but when Chad Porter and Nick Greenhalgh come up against each other, the competitive spirit will be second to none. We can't wait for this one.
There's always been a consistent rivalry between Mudgee and Bloomfield Tigers in Group 10 junior rugby league, so it should correlate into the under 18s arena.
To make this encounter even more interesting is the Tigers' under 16s side won the grand final against Mudgee last year, at home.
For many of those Bloomfield players, that was their final junior league game and now they'll want to continue that winning form heading into this coming season.
Despite finishing ninth and 11th respectively, both Hawks and Mudgee should be high on the ladder this season.
An incredibly disappointing finals series in Group 11 last year should have the Parkes girls fired up for this encounter.
Traditionally strong rivals in the League Tag competition, both sides have some of the best individuals running around.
Parkes' India Draper is a gun in her own right, although the Spacies girls will miss Belle Whitechurch who now plays at Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and Jorja Simpson is currently at Wests Tigers.
Despite that, there's still a few talented players running around Parkes, with a number of them featuring in the dominant Woodbridge Cup side that won the under 18s Western Women's Rugby League grand final.
CYMS' side goes without saying, Alahna Ryan and Maddi Drew are two of the best in Group 11 along with Demi Wilson.
Dubbo won all three of these games last season so the Spacies should be fired up to rectify that.
SINCE the last ever Group 10 premier league grand final in 2019 any match between the Dragons and Panthers has become must-watch football.
That physical, low-scoring affair which saw Panthers prevail 9-8 in extra-time has led to a bit of bad blood between the clubs that still lingers today.
In the Peter McDonald Premiership era it's the Mudgee men who have gained the ascendancy.
Dragons were too good for the visiting Panthers in last season's elimination final when they got up 28-16 to put themselves within a win of the decider.
In the regular season the Dragons also picked up dominant 32-18 and 38-10 wins.
Mudgee, at this stage, are taking in an almost changed side into the new season while the Panthers will have a new-look group trying to gel together.
By the time this match rolls around you would expect the Bathurst squad to have cohesion, but it's likely that the Dragons will be ones to beat - especially on their home turf.
Oh we can't wait for this.
I mean, we really can't wait for this.
Some Orange CYMS players might say they're returning to the scene of the crime, while Panthers will disagree.
Either way, a time-keeper debacle last season makes for an interesting encounter here.
A 30-30 draw in the round 15 clash between these sides last year meant CYMS crashed out of the reserve grade finals.
However, there was plenty of debate into the result with the scoreboard causing mayhem and uncertainty around how long was left in the game. At one stage CYMS were up 30-26 before the game was tied up for a draw.
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