Central North to split the difference

CENTRAL North Rugby is on the verge of a new era tomorrow with a two-tier competition that bids to make the CNRU a level playing field.

The 10 teams will play one full round against each other before being split in half and playing two full rounds as a top and bottom tier.

The new system is set to rub out the thrashings some teams have been getting recently whilst building numbers for the smaller clubs.

Central North president Peter Burke said it was a very positive move by the clubs to vote the new system in.

“It has created a whole new dynamic already, with the pre-season being so important,” Burke said.

“It is almost like three competitions in one.

“There are no second chances in the first round and no room for slow starts.”

Walcha will definitely not field a reserve grade this season and Barraba and Quirindi’s numbers are unknown.

The new system was implemented to build reserve grade teams and protect those clubs.

“We are hoping that they will build numbers as the season progresses,” Burke said.

The biggest positive to come out of the new system for spectators is the ten weeks of finals footy before the finals start.

Four of the top five teams will go at it every week, with the other having a bye.

Both tiers will be playing do or die football every week.

“It is a new and exciting era and we just hope that everyone gets behind it and the crowds come in,” Burke said.

While the top tier will play for the Central North premiership, it is still unknown what the second tier winner will hold up after the final.

In the new system, the U18s and U16s will be called Colts and will play in their own competition.

“About 70 per cent of the time they will play with their senior clubs,” Burke said.

The pre-season is over and each team has nine games to force itself into that top five.

Pirates will host Narrabri in a grudge match straight up.

Narrabri dumped Pirates out of the finals last year, after the teams went tit for tat all season.

Premiers Moree Bulls will have to be careful when they host a new-look Tamworth side.

The Magpies were easybeats last year but some new faces, and returning old faces, could help them surprise a few teams this season.

Walcha will have the support of most of the town as it  takes on Gunnedah at home.

The Rams will play straight after the Walcha Roos open their Second Division league season in a double header at Captain Cook Oval.

Barraba will have its hands full with a resurgent Inverell, while Quirindi will do it tough at home against last year’s semi- finalists Scone.

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