CENTRAL North premiers Moree’s game against Tamworth was halted by a spinal scare in the first half before the Bulls ran away with it while Barraba went down to a determined Inverell at home.
Tamworth struggled with the size and speed of premiers Moree, eventually going down 47-15 after holding them at bay early on.
20 minutes into the game a collapsed maul saw Magpies number eight Rhys Duncan sustain a neck injury.
Duncan was treated at the scene and taken to Moree District Hospital for scans.
Magpies co-coach Tony Mills said on Sunday he had been cleared of any spinal cord damage but was still in some pain and undergoing tests.
The game stopped for 20 minutes, before playing the final 10 minutes of the first half and a full second half.
The two sides had both scored once at the time of the injury, although when play resumed the Bulls started pulling away.
Two yellow cards in the second half didn’t help the Magpies’ cause but they were outgunned and outclassed by the Bulls.
“Defensively we were containing them quite well,” Mills said.
“At halftime we were still in the game but they put a lot of pressure on us in the second half.”
Moree captain Damien Kelly said the side was playing too loosely early on, although finished well.
The Bulls scrum dominated the Magpies, leading to several turnovers, a pushover try and a penalty try.
“The scrum was a good weapon,” Kelly said.
Ben Colley picked up the three points for his work at the breakdowns, along with former Magpie Simon Hall who got one point.
Moree will travel to Gunnedah next week while Tamworth will host what might be the only local derby of the season against Pirates.
Will Robinson and Rob Carter shone in their first game for Barraba, but it wasn’t enough to beat the Highlanders.
Robinson was named in the NSW Country Cockatoos Colts team on Friday after a very successful Country Championships last weekend.
Inverell is on a mission to make the top tier this season under coach Scott Bremner, and showed that on Saturday.
A wet track led to some sloppy play, although both teams managed to hold onto the ball enough to score, with Inverell winning 29-22.
Barraba captain Ben Crowley said Inverell always stayed at least a try in front of them the whole game.
“We were finishing strongly and scored the last two tries but they were too far ahead,” Crowley said.
Carter captained the side in his first game and, along with front- rower Robinson, led the way.
Barraba will only be fielding one grade this season, although will look to field two later in the year.
The captain said that if the rain keeps up, more workers will come to the region, which usually boosts rugby numbers.
“We have a good forward pack and will be a reasonable side when we get going,” Crowley said.
Winger Bradley Ibrahim scored a double in the loss.
In other opening-round CNRU games on Saturday, Gunnedah Red Devils beat Walcha Rams 44-16 in Walcha, Narrabri Blue Boars beat Pirates 20-18 in Tamworth and Scone Brumbies had a 36-nil win over Quirindi Lions at Quirindi Rugby Park.