THERE were no big surprises in the first round of the Central North and New England Rugby competitions last weekend.
Central North’s two tier competition has teams counting numbers after only round one.
Narrabri’s 20-18 away win over the Pirates was a good start with games against Quirindi and Barraba approaching.
For and against has Moree Bulls on top after a 47-15 win over Tamworth at home.
That game included a neck injury scare to Rhys Duncan who is recovering well.
Following disappointing finishes to last season, Inverell and Gunnedah have had big pre-seasons and could be dark horses this
The Red Devils 44-16 win over Walcha in Walcha will give them plenty of confidence, although they have a tough fortnight ahead of them with Moree, followed by Pirates.
Inverell got on top of Barraba early and stayed ahead to win 29-22 on a wet track.
Barraba and Walcha have started the CNRU season with a first grade only.
They hope to fill second grade sides by the time the tiers come into play in round 10.
If they can’t fill those teams and are in the same tier the draw will be re-visited according to CNRU president Peter Burke.
Scone survived a hailstorm to keep Quirindi scoreless at home and win 36-nil.
New Lions coach and former All Black, Grant Batty, has done very well to get enough players to fill two sides.
He now needs to get them training as they have the quality to be able to compete this year.
The real test will come this week for Quirindi when they travel to Narrabri.
This week will see a huge local derby as Pirates meet the Magpies at Rugby Park.
Tamworth will be itching to knock Pirates off with their new look backline, but could struggle up front in the set piece.
If the two sides don’t fall in the same tier it will be the only Tamworth derby of the season.
Gunnedah could test Moree while Walcha will be looking to bounce back when they travel to Inverell for a tablelands derby.
In Armidale the student teams had a slow start to the New England Rugby Union season with both Robb and St Alberts both losing.
Robb were stunned in the first half by Armidale Blues, who raced in 33 unanswered points.
Robb managed to contain them in the second half but only managed one try and a penalty to go down 33-8.
Albies put on a better display and led most of the game before the Barbarians scored 10 minutes from time to win 23-17.
Guyra Ghosts had the first round bye.