A strong defensive line has led to the Macleay Valley Mustangs claiming the northern pre-season trophy after they defeated the Port City Breakers 16-0 in the final at Wauchope on Sunday.
The Mustangs didn't concede a point in the pre-season tournament, after they held the Sharks scoreless in a 12-0 victory last week.
However, both matches were abandoned early in the second half as lightning threatened the player's welfare.
While Mustangs coach Russell Lardner didn't want to get ahead of himself after earning the two victories, he admitted they were impressive results considering where the club was last year.
"People didn't think we had a chance against the Sharks in the first week and then again on Sunday against the Breakers," Lardner said.
"I don't want to say too much but I think we will be contenders this year. We are still rebuilding but our goal is to be competitive and finish in the top four."
Lardner credited Richie Roberts and Chris Piper, two former Group Three Players of the Year, for leading from the front in the middle of the field.
"They are two very experienced players and are the leaders of our forward pack," Lardner said.
While the Mustangs' defence was relentless, Lardner still sees room for improvement.
"We were solid in defence across the park, putting on some big hits, but I still want us to work on slowing down the ruck," he said.
"They were able to get a bit of a roll on at times and we can't allow that."
Lardner also praised the young halves pairing of Stephan Blair and Tyreece Sines, who helped steer the attack and forwards around the park.
Lardner, who was playing dummy half, opened the scoring for the Mustangs before Jesse Douglas crossed to give them a 12-0 half-time lead.
Nathan Welsh crossed in the corner to start the second half before the match was abandoned.
Mustangs' Under-18.5s also earned a victory, defeating the Breakers 18-14, despite only having one reserve on the bench.
Under-18.5s players Miles Monta and Harold Thompson came off the bench for the first grade side and Lardner said both had solid performances.
Macleay Valley opens their 2019 campaign on the road against Old Bar on Saturday April 6.
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