Saturday, April 17:
BATHURST BULLDOGS versus ORANGE EMUS at Ann Ashwood Park
BULLDOGS: 1 Joel Harper, 2 Matt Trapp, 3 Bailey Warren, 4 Dale Norris, 5 Justin Mobbs (vc), 6 Tom Felsch, 7 Sam Maher, 8 Peter Fitzsimmons (c), 9 Will Oldham, 10 Brad Glasson, 11 Buzz Webber, 12 Hunter Davis, 13 Sione Naufahu, 14 Adam Plummer, 15 Josh Weekes.
COACH: Mick Leseberg
EMUS: 1 Steve Fergus, 2 Charlie Henley (c), 3 Michael Graham, 4 Nick Hughes-Clapp, 5 Simon Badgery, 6 Jack Marchinton, 7 Sam Greatbatch, 8 Scott McLean, 9 Shahid Khalfan, 10 Jamil Khalfan, 11 Tom Joseph, 12 Lachie Harris, 13 Nigel Staniforth (c), 14 Harry Cummins, 15 Louis Carr.
COACH: Pete Bromley.
- RILEY KRAUSE: Emus by 3
In what will be the most anticipated match of the opening round, Emus will be looking to start their title defence with a bang. I'm not too worried about the Orange outfit travelling down the road for this one and although it will be a close one, I can't see any other result except an Emus win.
- JAKE HUMPHREYS: Emus by 10
Class prevails, here. Obviously the men in green are dealing with a couple of key losses in the forwards but the Bulldogs have also admitted to being a bit light on at training. It won't be one sided, but the away side will get the chocolates.
FORBES PLATYPI versus COWRA EAGLES at Grinsted Oval
PLATYPI: 1 Charlie French, 2 Will Nash, 3 Rusi Lawanikula, 4 Brenton Howarth, 5 Timoci Waqaisavou, 6 Tom Menzies, 7 Andrew Hubbard, 8 Matt Coles, 9 Minti Tonga, 10 Mahe Fangupo, 11 Tom Maguire, 12 Andrew Saar, 13 Nathaniel Lagilagi, 14 John Monk, 15 Daniel Sweeney.
COACH: Heamani Lavaka
EAGLES: 1 Gabe Brown, 2 Joe Sullivan, 3 Tom Cummins, 4 Chris Miller, 5 Damo Michaels, 6 Ben Watt, 7 Will Turner, 8 Tim Berry, 9 Fergus Carney, 10 Troy Jeffs, 11 Vilikesa Koilagi, 12 Bill Cummins, 13 Jeremy Montgomery, 14 Zane Southwell, 15 Navitali Bola.
COACH: Colin Kilby
- RILEY KRAUSE: Forbes by 10
It will be a different year for Cowra without the regular backpackers to bolster the line-up. Forbes also have a couple new recruits in Lawanikula and Waqaisavou who I'm expecting big things from.
- JAKE HUMPHREYS: Cowra by 7
I'm expecting Eagles to have a stellar season but these round one clashes are always unpredictable. Forbes will be fired up at home and won't roll over easily.
ORANGE CITY versus DUBBO KANGAROOS at Pride Park
LIONS: 1 Sia Nemani, 2 Josh Tremain, 3 Kyle Lawson, 4 Kieran Bonin, 5 Tom Fenton, 6 Colin McGregor, 7 Harrry Taberner, 8 Logan Buckley, 9 Dave McQueeny, 10 Traye Hodge, 11 Billy Thompson, 12 Logan Brockmann, 13 Fletcher Rose, 14 Jack Connors, 15 Duncan Young.
COACH: Viv Paasi
KANGAROOS: 1Rob McNamara, 2Will Anderson, 3Edward Williams, 4Will Michell, 5Ronan Scott, 6Hugh O'Leary, 7Will Archer, 8Sam Knaggs, 9 Pat Wheatley, 10 Hamish Gordon, 11 Logan Porch, 12 Sam Gemmell, 13 Johnny Mafiti, 14 Nick Harvey, 15 Jake Styles.
COACH: Paul Hausia
- RILEY KRAUSE: Orange City by 7
Although it will be a tough campaign for City, anything can happen in the opening round. With a strong home crowd to cheer them on, I'm expecting this one to be a nail-biter.
- JAKE HUMPHREYS: Orange City by 1
We've picked City to come last, but that doesn't mean we're throwing them to the wolves entirely... there's still talent there. Roos have been savaged by injuries and will feel that pinch on Saturday. Duncan Young dagger FTW.
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