It's hard to know exactly what would have excited the Pirates faithful the most at Peter Fenwicke Oval on Saturday - the sight of Jake Douglas sniping from the ruck and bursting into the clear, the scintillating pace Ollie Wright showed to score late in the first half, the support play for their penultimate try, their uncompromising defence, the scrum wheeling Walcha's or the comprehensive manor with which they dispatched of their 2019 grand final rivals.
The bottom line is there was plenty to like as the premiers kicked off their quest for an historic fifth-straight premiership with a 57-6 triumph.
It was an emphatic statement and a warning shot for the rest of the competition.
Even co-coach Mick Squires conceded post-match they played better than he and Todd Pascoe thought they would. And on the way they had trained during the week they had expected them to "play well".
It was tight early as both sides felt each other out.
Damian Reti opened the scoring about 15 minutes in after some good continuity had put Pirates on the front foot.
The Rams hit back with a penalty, before Douglas found some space around the ruck and put the foot down to streak away 40m and score.
Another penalty to Charlie Keen kept Pirates within the Rams' reach but not for long, three quick tries putting them up 31-6 at half-time.
They showed little let-up in the second half, matching some great attack with some unyielding defence.
"It was a good start for us, we were still a bit rusty in some areas," Squires said.
"[But] The areas where we thought that we'd be strong in this year, we were strong in."
Like the forwards. They really set the platform.
He felt like probably after Douglas' try was when they really started to assert their dominance.
"We were really strong at the cleanout, which opened up the ability for him to take that ball and go on and score some points and I think everyone got a bit of confidence out of that," he said.
The Rams opting to take the penalty rather than go for the try was a further confidence booster.
The defence - and the fact that they didn't concede a try - was for Squires and Pascoe one of the most pleasing things about the performance.
"I thought that we scrambled well and tackled low well," Squires said.
He also noted their support play.
"I thought we'd probably be a bit rusty, a bit tired, but a couple of those last tries were five, six passes," he said.
All that said, there is still plenty to work on. They were "a bit rusty with some of their passing" and gave away a few too many penalties.
The Rams were far from the side that has pushed Pirates to the brink in two of the last three grand finals, both on paper and in their performance, but skipper Ed Churchill believes it will come as the new players start to gel.
They had five players making their debuts, and all of them under 22.
And while there is plenty to work on, there were some positives.
"There were plenty of phases in there where we defended well," Churchill said.
"The structure we're trying to play we sort of only got together two or three times and that was probably our more positive attack.
"So if we can start to string that together and get the new guys and a few other ball players in the right positions it all looks pretty good."
Elsewhere Moree hammered Barraba 64-5, Gunnedah beat Inverell 20-7 and Narrabri got over Quirindi 34-18.
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