IT may only be a four-team format in Bengalla Hunter Valley Group 21 Rugby League in 2019, but that isn't affecting the competitive nature of the first grade players taking the field each week.
Within the opening three rounds, tensions already appear high, with a number of spirited upsets ensuring no side has an easy run this season.
The Denman Devils knocked over the highly-fancied Singleton Greyhounds in their second hit-out and, at the weekend, the Aberdeen Tigers also claimed the same scalp.
Pirtek Park was no place for the faint-hearted on Sunday.
The Tigers, now under the guidance of captain-coach Ben Baker, pipped the Greyhounds 32-30 in a fiery showdown to register their maiden win.
It sets up an intriguing encounter when the two combatants face off again, this time at Muswellbrook's Olympic Park, in round four.
Meanwhile, the Scone Thoroughbreds maintained its unbeaten streak at the expense of the Devils.
After leading 22-0 at the break, the defending premiers went on with the job in the second half to prevail 44-6.
Scone now heads the ladder on six points, with Singleton, 2018 grand finalists Aberdeen and Denman all locked together on one victory apiece.
In reserve grade, the Thoroughbreds accounted for the Devils 16-6, the Merriwa Magpies upstaged the Tigers 20-8 and the Greyhounds beat the Murrurundi Mavericks 30-26.
At Greta, the Muswellbrook Rams put the hosts, the Colts, to the sword 22-0.
With captain-coach Mick Henry leading the way, the visitors enjoyed a 12-0 advantage at the interval, thanks to tries to Jacob Button and Bayley Carter.
Further four-pointers to Caleb Pearce and Jack Wilson, as well as a goal, sealed the much-needed triumph.
Henry took home the players' player honours, too.
The Rams return to Olympic Park on Sunday, with the Thoroughbreds in their sights in three grades.
Scone's under-18s overpowered Denman 10-6 and Singleton looked sharp in its 22-10 win over Aberdeen.
In league tag action, the Thoroughbreds hammered the Devils 62-0, the Magpies thrashed the Tigers 34-0 and the Mavettes shut out the Greyhounds 18-0.
Round three results
First grade - Scone d Denman 44-6, Aberdeen d Singleton 32-30
Reserve grade - Scone d Denman 16-6, Merriwa d Aberdeen 20-8, Muswellbrook d Greta Branxton 22-0, Singleton d Murrurundi 30-26
Under-18 - Scone d Denman 10-6, Singleton d Aberdeen 22-10
League tag - Scone d Denman 62-0, Merriwa d Aberdeen 34-0, Murrurundi d Singleton 18-0
Round four draw
Saturday, May 18 -
3pm: reserve grade, Greta Branxton v Aberdeen
2pm: league tag, Merriwa v Singleton
3pm: reserve grade, Merriwa v Singleton
Sunday, May 19 -
11.25am: league tag, Denman v Murrurundi
12.20pm: under-18, Denman v Aberdeen
1.30pm: reserve grade, Denman v Murrurundi
3pm: first grade, Denman v Scone
10.20am: league tag, Muswellbrook v Scone
11.20am: under-18, Muswellbrook v Scone
12.30pm: reserve grade, Muswellbrook v Scone
2pm: first grade, Aberdeen v Singleton