Cessnock opened the season against last year’s minor premiers Southern Lakes at Morisset on Saturday.
Cessnock went to half time behind 15-8 with a try to Pat Burns and a penalty conversion to Tane Clifford.
However, Southern Lakes stepped up another notch in the second half running in three more tries and keeping Cessnock scoreless to run out 36-8 winners.
Point scorers were Pat Burns 1 try, Tane Clifford penalty conv.
Hotel Cessnock Best & Fairest points: Players player Cody Herring 3, Brendon Clark 2 and Tane Cliffod. Cessnock plays Griffins at Drain Oval, Cessnock, at 3pm on Saturday.