The under 18 Monaro Colts stunned a highly fancied South Coast outfit on Saturday.
The Colts dominated the visitors with a 36-10 result after holding a 10-4 advantage at the break.
Earlier, the under 16 Colts had been handed a 20-4 loss by the Dragons, which played out to the South Coast script as the Colts struggled to get through the big men.
In the 18s it was an entirely different scenario as the Colts stunned the Dragons with classy edge plays and some strong go-forward in the middle.
“They’re making too many metres, every time they’ve got the ball they’re marching up,” one Dragons player said during a Colts conversion effort.
Bega’s Callum Bower-Scott was heavily influential in the result out of the halves with some handy runs to the edges and a solid kicking game aiding the Colts well.
However, it was the blinding runs by Batemans Bay young gun Treigh Stewart that stole the show.
The winger blasted away from the Dragons early in the first half with a 60-metre dash to open the scoring in the left corner.
Then in the second half he made an intercept for an 80-metre burst up the left edge including some fancy footwork and a handy fend to get clear of the opposing fullback.
The winger went on to claim a third try late in the second half as well as converting four attempts in a man-of-the-match performance by the young gun.
Earlier in the 16s, half Jordan Potter was the sole try-scorer for the Colts, while Liam Lynch, Josh Turla, Jordan Wolhar and Bailey Tooth all secured four-pointers for the visitors.
Group 16 chairman Allan Wilton said it was great to host the opening round of the Country Championships in Bega.
He said the matches were a great showcase of talent and expected plenty of those competing to be under the scrutiny of a few NRL talent scouts.
“This competition could give them the opportunity to forge a career in rugby league in the future,” Mr Wilton said.
The result is the first of five rounds of championships with CRL officials saying about 550 of the state’s best would be involved across 52 matches in 23 towns.
However, local league officials said it also heralded the start of the Group 16 year with the pre-season Indigenous v All Star round to go ahead at Narooma on March 10.
A fan-favourite over the past few years, Narooma official Bob Burnside said the match was about “promoting the Indigenous players and the great role they play in our game today”.
Mr Burnside said the Devils are excited to host the round with a “huge day of football” on the cards including an under 18s nine-a-side tournament from 11am.
“The teams will be promoting the expansion of game by encouraging new players to have a go, especially Indigenous players, with a cash bonus going to the club which introduces the most new players on the day,” he said.
Following the tournament will be the two headline clashes including a women’s tackle Indigenous v All Star showdown from 2.30pm.
“Last year’s game was a cracker, with no holds barred so make sure you catch this one,” Mr Burnside said.
The women’s contest has become one of the most popular fixtures on the Group 16 calendar.
“Narooma coaches Kate and Damien Rotumah will be coaching this rep team on the day and reckon the Narooma’s girls who are in the team are just itching to play a tackle game.”
The final of the Under 18 tournament will follow and lead to the mens Indigenous All Stars v Group 16 Under 23 All Stars team.
“The Indigenous boys will be coached by Batemans Bay’s Mason Harrison and he has them raring to go, these games are taken very seriously and it should be a great spectacle of attacking football,” Mr Burnside said.
A huge success in 2016 was a visit from the One Deadly Step program that provided free medical check ups for Indigenous spectators.
The Katungal South Coast Medical Service will be in attendance this year at the ground and will also be carrying out health checks
”This is going to be a great day for everyone, so don’t miss it.” The Indigenous v All Star round will be held at Narooma’s Bill Smythe Memorial Oval on March 10.