Newcastle Hunter proved too strong in both grades, beating Far North Coast in Under-20s and Opens in round one of the NSW Country Championships at Tomaree Sports Ground, Nelson Bay, on Saturday.

Results:

UNDER 20s
Newcastle Hunter 43 d FNCRU 12 (Chris Clark, Dominic Morris tries, Sam Flynn conversion). Half-time: NHRU 21, FNCRU 5.

OPENS
Newcastle Hunter 39 d FNCRU 3 (Adam Gordon penalty goal). Half-time: NHRU 10, FNCRU 3.

Country Championship Qualifying Results:

The 2010 Country Championship Qualifying Matches were played on 20 March 2010, with the favoured zones taking out the matches in the Seniors and Colts.

Newcastle Hunter opened their championship defence with a hard-fought 39–3 victory over the Far North Coast at Nelsons Bay.

The scoreline didn’t depict the intensity of the contest, with the Novocastrians having to work overtime late in the match to overcome the Dolphins.

The first half was very even with both teams restricting the other’s scoring opportunities with very strong defence, which saw Newcastle Hunter go to the break with a slim 10-3 lead.

The second half continued on as the first, but the Newcastle Hunter pack slowly took control of the play, which enabled them to post a rush of late points.

Central West had too much power and pace for New England to run out comfortable winners 53–13 at Orange.

The Bull Bulls opened the scoring early in the match with a converted try and were never headed as they set up a 32–8 lead over the Lions at half-time, before scoring another 21 points in the second half.

The Lions toiled all day in the forwards, but they were no match in the backs with 48 of Central West’s points being scored by their backs.

Central Coast had to work extremely hard to overcome Central North 27–7 at Woy Woy.

The first half was a very even affair with both teams’ defence cancelling each other out, and it was only in the last ten minutes of the half that the Sea Hawks set up the 7–0 half-time lead.

The second half saw the Central Coast forwards lift their intensity to take control of the match to run in another four unconverted tries against the Kookaburras.

Central North never gave up and crossed for a consolation converted try right on the full-time bell.

Illawarra completely outclassed an under-strength Western Plains 92–5 at Wollongong.

Late withdrawals of several key players left the Plainsmen’s playing stocks short and the Illawarriors took every opportunity to compile a record score.

In the Colts, the Central Coast and Illawarra had to overcome half-time deficits to defeat Central North and the Lloyd McDermott Foundation, while Newcastle Hunter and Central West had comfortable wins over Far North Coast and New England.

Next weekend sees the Country Weekend being played at Belmont, with the Semi-Finals and Finals of the Caldwell Cup, Richardson Shield, Colts Championship and Colts Plate being played on 27 and 28 March respectively.

Qualifying Match Results – 20 March 2010
Seniors
Central Coast 27 – Central North 7
Central West 53 – New England 8
Illawarra 92 – Western Plains 5
Newcastle Hunter 39 – Far North Coast 3
Colts
Central Coast 30 – Central North 13
Central West 20 – New England 5
Illawarra 29 – Lloyd McDermott Foundation 14
Newcastle Hunter 43 – Far North Coast 12
Semi-Final Draw – 27 March 2010
Caldwell Cup
Newcastle Hunter v Central West – 4.00pm
Illawarra v Central Coast – 2.20pm
Richardson Shield
Far North Coast v New England – 12.40pm
Western Plains v Central North – 11.00am
Colts Championship
Newcastle Hunter v Central West – 3.30pm
Illawarra v Central Coast – 2.00pm
Colts Plate
Far North Coast v New England – 12.30pm
Lloyd McDermott v Central North – 11.00am