Cessnock retained the Charity Shield with a hard fought 28-16 win over the Kurri Bulldogs on Saturday night.
After an error prone first half, which ended in a Kurri try to right on the bell from a grubber kick, the Bulldogs went into the break leading 16-12.
But Cessnock regrouped to score three second-half tries and retain the Shield. In fact Cessnock took all three senior grades - all tough clashes, winning the reserves 30-24 and the Opens 18-16.
'It was a tough hit out - I think both sides would agree - which is exactly what we're after at this stage of the season," Cessnock coach Todd Edwards said.
"We didn't get much ball at all in the first half, so to go in four down was pleasing.
"I would think we only had about 40 per cent of the ball in the first half. After the break we got an even share of the footy and ran in three tries to nil."
Not that Kurri would be too disappointed.
Their main goal was to get match fitness into their players and with Nathan Ross and Tyler Randall sitting out, they were competitive for a long while.
"The speed of the game caught a few of them out," Bulldogs president Mick Alchin admitted.
"But we expected that. Remember, a lot of these guys didn't play at all last season, and you can't substitute match fitness.
"Still all the grades were close so there's plenty there for us to be pleased about.
I would think both clubs would be happy with what they saw."
The two clubs will now take next week off before the competition kicks off.
Kurri will be at home against the Maitland Pickers in the opening round while Cessnock will host Souths.