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Yanco-Wamoon Hawks have kicked off their 2023 Group 20 campaign in the best possible fashion after landing a gritty 18-10 victory over the Hay Magpies at Yanco Sportsground last Sunday.

The 80-minute slogfest was played in trying, wet conditions, with rain falling throughout, but supporters were still greeted by a quality contest between two very physical and uncompromising outfits.

“It rained pretty much the whole game, and it was a wet and sloppy game, but both sides held the ball well considering the conditions and the fact that it was the first round,” Hawks coach Kane Hammond said.

Hay boasts a massive pack led by recruit Simon Parr, but Yanco-Wamoon did well to nullify their impact, allowing Elwyn Ravu and Petero Taitusi to play some attacking Rugby League as they guided the Hawks to an important eight-point victory.

“They have got Simon Parr and Ben Taylor, who are quality players, and they’ve gone and recruited around them, and they will be more than competitive this year,” Hammond said.

“Hay is a really big side, and once they get match fit, they’ll be hard to beat, and they hadn’t played a (trial) game, so I thought they were really good.”

The Hawks are coming off a dismal 2022 season, in which they won just two games, finishing second to last on the Group 20 ladder.

Hammond – a product of Tumbarumba and a well-respected player and coach in the Riverina – isn't expecting miracles in 2023 but is pleased they got off to a winning start.

“Last year, we really struggled; we didn't get any early wins, and it’s nice to win, especially that first game at home,” he said.

“It will build good morale and interest right through the club, especially because we’ve got a young, inexperienced side.

“We’ll have our ups and downs, but we’ve got a lot more depth and quality compared to what we have had in previous seasons, and I’d like to push for that fifth spot, and that is the ultimate goal, but we are still rebuilding, and we’ll just see how we go.”

Hammond’s Hawks take flight to West Wyalong in Round Two when batting the Mallee Men at Ron Crowe Oval on Sunday.

“That will be a really good game,” Hammond said.

“They are always tough over there at home, and with Tim Dore and Cameron Miller in the middle, they’ll be challenging, and it will be a difficult test again.”

The stage is set for a big Round Two of Group 20 action this weekend.

In an early-season Grand Final replay, the Leeton Galloping Greens and Darlington Point-Coleambally Roosters will do battle at Leeton No 1 Oval on Sunday.

Group 20 Round One results: Leeton Galloping Greens def West Wyalong Mallee Men 24-6, Griffith Black and Whites def Tullibigeal-Lake Cargelligo Sharks 34-24, Darlington Point-Coleambally Roosters def Yenda Blueheelers 44-10, Yanco-Wamoon Hawks def Hay Magpies 18-10.

Group 20 Round Two draw (May 7): Tullibigeal-Lake Cargelligo Sharks v Hay Magpies at Lake Cargelligo Recreation Oval, Leeton Galloping Greens v Darlington Point-Coleambally Roosters at Leeton No 1 Oval, West Wyalong Mallee Men v Yanco-Wamoon Hawks at Ron Crowe Oval, Griffith Black and Whites v Yenda Blueheelers at Solar Mad Stadium.

Group 9 Round Two results: Albury Thunder 34 defeated Gundagai Tigers 26, Temora Dragons 27 defeated Tumut Blues 16. Young Cherrypickers 28 defeated Wagga Kangaroos 26.

Group 9 Round Two draw (May 6): Albury Thunder v Young Cherrypickers at Greenfield Park, Wagga Kangaroos v South City Bulls at McDonald's Park, Temora Dragons v Gundagai Tigers at Nixon Park; May 7: Tumut Blues v Junee Diesels at Twickenham.

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New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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