Annual Scanlon Shield kicks off 2019 Bengalla Hunter Valley Group 21 Rugby League season

2018 Scanlon Shield champions Aberdeen Tigers
2018 Scanlon Shield champions Aberdeen Tigers

THE 2019 Bengalla Hunter Valley Group 21 Rugby League season kicks off this weekend with the annual Scanlon Shield.

And, it's set to toss up some intriguing scenarios for the competition proper, which begins next month.

The Aberdeen Tigers, Singleton Greyhounds, Denman Devils, Muswellbrook Rams and Scone Thoroughbreds will go-head-to head at McKinnon Field on Saturday.

While the "firsts" vie for the Scanlon Shield, the under-18 and ladies league tag sides also contest a knockout tournament at the same venue, as well as Jefferson Park.

But, all the attention is on the senior teams, which have undergone numerous changes in the off-season.

Aberdeen is now under the guidance of prolific pointscorer Ben Baker and Phil Beverstock, with a number of talented players at their disposal.

Singleton has been the big mover during summer, with former NRL stars Frank-Paul Nuuausala and Chad Redman signing with the Greyhounds to bolster its stocks.

Denman will boast a strong Rams' flavour, with up to 11 guys following Adam Grech across the highway.

Muswellbrook, with Mick Henry in the captain-coaching role, is expected to unveil a new-look squad.

Scone, the reigning Group 21 premiers, appear as formidable as 2018, with the important addition of Newcastle Knights and Canberra Raiders hooker Adam Clydsdale.

So, it adds up to an interesting year ahead.

Meanwhile, the Tigers secured the 2018 Scanlon Shield, following a 40-12 victory over the Rams - and will be keen to defend their title on home soil.

They open their account against the Greyhounds at 1pm, followed by a showdown with Muswellbrook at 3.45pm.

Games start from 9am.

Saturday's draw -

Under-18s

Field 1:

9am, 1, Aberdeen v Singleton

9.45am, 2, Denman v Muswellbrook

10.30am, 3, Scone v Singleton

11.15am, 4, Aberdeen v Muswellbrook

Noon, 5, Denman v Scone

Final: Two highest ranked winners (to be played when they first meet in the competition proper)

Under-18s: All games played in 20-minute halves with five-minute half-time break

Ladies league tag

Field 2:

9.30am, 1, Murrurundi v Aberdeen

10.05am: 2, Muswellbrook v Scone

10.40am: 3, Singleton v Aberdeen

11.15am, 4, Murrurundi v Scone

11.50am, 5, Singleton v Muswellbrook

Final: Two highest ranked winners (to be played when they first meet in the competition proper)

Ladies league tag: All games to be played in 15-minute halves with five-minute half-time break

First grade

Field 1:

1pm, 1, Aberdeen v Singleton

1.55pm, 2, Denman v Muswellbrook

2.50pm, 3, Scone v Singleton

3.45pm, 4, Aberdeen v Muswellbrook

4.40pm, 5, Denman v Scone

Final: Two highest ranked winners (to be played when they first meet in the competition proper)

First grade: All games played in 25-minute halves with a five-minute half-time break