IT WAS meant to be Walcha’s day at Captain Cook Park on Saturday but Gunnedah and Dungowan had different ideas.
A big Walcha crowd came out to welcome in both the Central North Rugby and Second Division Rugby League seasons with a double header.
The Red Devils faced down a three-year hoodoo to beat the Rams 44-10 in the union.
The Rams have had the wood on Gunnedah for three years straight, and even longer at home, although could not hold off the fitter team.
Gunnedah celebrated the 200th first grade game of Dave Heyman in style, running away with the game and running the Rams ragged.
The Red Devils started their 2014 season with a penalty goal before scoring a try with a rolling maul and never looked back.
Coach Tim Walsh has been punishing the side with fitness drills all off season and it paid off.
“There were a few early-season dropped balls but we looked all right and had a good win,” Walsh said.
The Red Devils moved the Walcha pack around the ground before feeding the ball to man of the match, fly half Peter Henderson.
“He made a lot of ground and took all the right options,” Walsh said.
“He also didn’t miss with the boot all day.”
The loss of skipper Peter Hughes for the season put a very sour note on the win.
The open side flanker did his AC joint with only five minutes to go.
The girls’ league tag kicked off the day at midday, although unfortunately the Dungowan girls were too strong for the home side.
The men’s game was a much closer affair but, even with the crowd roaring, the Roos just fell short.
Dungowan won the Pepperell Shield a few weeks back and rode that momentum into the opening game against the Walcha Roos.
Beau Ryan crossed for two tries but it was his boot that made the difference.
Both sides crossed four times but Ryan’s four from four got the Cowboys across the line.
Walcha coach Peter Berry said that despite the loss it was a sensational day.
“We had a great crowd turn up for both games and they were played in the right spirit,” Berry said.
“It was a very close game all the way. In the end, a few mistakes cost us the win.”
The double header will happen again throughout the year as both sides have home games on the same weekend.
The next match-up might see the Tamworth Magpies and the Boggabri Roos face the big Walcha crowd at the end of May.