GREATER Northern Regional rugby league competitions return to normal this weekend after last Saturday’s Greater Northern Championships took centre stage at Scully Park.
Group 21 dominated the championships, winning the Jim Sharpe Cup (seniors) and John O’Halloran Shield (Under 16s), while Group 19 prevailed when Uralla fullback Jordan Press scored a brilliant long-range try to snatch a 24-22 victory from Group 4 on the bell and win the Brazier Shield.
Press’s late try also helped earn him a berth in the Greater Northern Tigers Under 18 side to contest the Country Championships in Wollongong.
The Tigers send an Under 16 side to that June long weekend junior country championship.
Those Under 16s will train at Scully Park tonight while the 18s have a training camp at Werris Creek tomorrow.
The Darryl Rando-coached Greater Northern Tigers train at Werris Creek on Tuesday evening in readiness for tomorrow week’s Tier 2 Country Championship semi-final against Western at Singleton’s ResCo Park.
ResCo Park also hosts a crucial match on Sunday when the Singleton Greyhounds host Aberdeen Tigers in their Round 7 A Plus Contracting Group 21 clash.
The Greyhounds have won just the one game so far and languish fifth, a point behind Muswellbrook Rams who head to nearby Denman for a big local derby.
The Devils are reigning premiers and sitting second on the ladder but level with a Greta Branxton side who take on the Greyhounds at ResCo Park.
Competition leader Scone is five points ahead of the Devils and Colts and is at home to Aberdeen Tigers tomorrow night.
The Daniel Hoogerwerf-coached Tigers are last on the table but are improving.
Prop Marcus Marsh’s selection in the Greater Northern Tigers after two livewire performances for Group 21 in its GN Championship success is a bonus for the Tigers.
He was one of 13 G21 players selected in the Tigers side to tackle Western Division.
Scone supplies five – captain Daniel Ritter, Country fullback Tim Smith, centre Justin Apthorpe, winger Joel Harrison and reserve back Josh Adams.
The Thoroughbreds have enjoyed a wonderful start to the season, with six straight wins and also lead the Club Championship.
Glen Innes Magpies are also enjoying a winning start to the new, enhanced Group 19 season.
The Sam Key captain-coached side hosts Inverell Hawks in a local derby at Kerry Mead Park tomorrow.
The Magpies sit alone at the top of the table, two points ahead of reigning premiers Moree Boomerangs, who have a home derby against Moree Boars to contend with.
Ashford Roosters are also at home to the Goondiwindi Boars tomorrow and Armidale Rams, the big improvers of Group 19 and currently sitting third, host Tingha Tigers at Armidale Rugby League Park.
Uralla Tigers have the bye.
In Group 4, Gunnedah Bulldogs have a huge home game against the West Lions at Kitchener Park tomorrow.
The Shane Rampling-coached Bulldogs have won all three matches so far and tackle the new-look reigning premiers in a major test of their 2014 premiership credentials.
The other two Group 4 first division games will be played tomorrow, with unbeaten North Tamworth going to Narrabri to tackle the Blues at Collins Park and Wee Waa Panthers hosting Oxley Diggers at Captain Cook Park.
There are three games in the Group 4 Second Division competition as well.
All three will be played tomorrow, with Walcha at home to Manilla, Boggabri hosting Dungowan and unbeaten competition leaders Barraba heading to Bendemeer Oval for what is a vital match for the home team Mountain Men.
Bendy has just one win so far this season and must find full 80-minute form if it is to challenge the Tim Coombes-coached Bulldogs and stay in contention for a semi-final berth.
The Bulldogs are unbeaten and sit atop the Shield table with Kootingal Roosters, who have the bye along with Werris Creek.