Group 10 will be treated to an opening round blockbuster when Cowra travels to Mudgee to take on a new-look Dragons at Glen Willow.
The 2019 season is officially scheduled to kick-off on April 13 with Lithgow Workies hosting Orange Hawks and Orange CYMS taking on St Pat’s in Bathurst.
Josh Starling’s Oberon Tigers have a bye while defending premiers Panthers will begin their title defence a touch earlier against Blayney. The Bathurst club will host the Bears at Carrington Park on March 30 as the curtain-raiser for the Penrith-Melbourne NRL match in town.
But it’ll be the Magpies-Mudgee clash at Glen Willow that should draw the most attention.
After signing former Manly and Wests Tigers half Jack Littlejohn as coach, the Dragons have been the big movers this off-season, adding a dozen first-grade calibre players to their squad, while 2018 runners-up Cowra have recruited well, too, with serious class in the form of Claude Gordon, Lewis Dwyer and rake Logan Harris added to the swoopers’ 2019 roster.
Both are figured to feature at the pointy end of the ladder.
Group 10 secretary Peter McDonald is still ironing out a few chinks in the draw’s final draft, but those issues revolve around whether or not the board will introduce a catch-up round for bad weather.
As it stands, with a later-than-usual April 13 kick-off for round one, Group 10 will play through the June long weekend and have no general byes. A grand final on September 15 will be the case then.
At this stage there’s no byes ... we’ll push through.Group 10 secretary Peter McDonald
But, if a catch-up round is slotted in late during the second round, a September 23 grand final date will be rubber stamped.
“At this stage there’s no byes,” McDonald said.
“We’re starting a couple of weeks later and finishing a week later. We’ll push through.”
Most clubs enjoy at least one home game in the opening three weeks of the season, but both Hawks and CYMS don’t get the chance to play at home until round four.
Wade Park is unavailable for the first three weeks of the season and McDonald said accommodating that request, as well as a host of others from across the group, made the 2019 draw a juggling act.
“If Orange had a delegated rugby league field it’d be great,” McDonald said looking at the early-season unavailability of Wade Park.
The Western representative cluster has also been moved to June, instead of the originally slated May 19 date, which would have made the Group 10 and Group 11 first grade game the curtain-raiser to Mudgee’s NRL clash.
The rep fixtures will now be played on June 15 at a venue still to be determined.
EACH CLUB’S FIRST FIVE ROUNDS:
Hawks (home), St Pat’s (away), Cowra (away), Blayney (away), CYMS (home).
Bye, Mudgee (home), CYMS (home), St Pat’s (away), Hawks (away).
Cowra (home), Oberon (away), Blayney (home), bye, Panthers (home).
BATHURST ST PAT’S:
CYMS (home), Workies (home), Panthers (away), Oberon (home), Cowra (away).
Blayney (home), bye, St Pat’s (home), Hawks (away), Mudgee (away).
Panthers (away), CYMS (home), Mudgee (away), Workies (home), bye.
Workies (away), Cowra (away), bye, Panthers (home), Oberon (home).
St Pat’s (away), Blayney (away), Oberon (away), Cowra (home), Workies (away).
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