Maitland Saints fans got a glimpse of things to come with an emphatic win against Cardiff led by star recruit Ben Stewart and full-forward Wade Beard.
Midfielder Stewart relished the challenge against his old team and delivered a best-on-ground performance in a dominant display across the midfield.
Steward joined the Saints at the urging of his sons Zack, 10, and Xavier, 6, after a long Black Diamond AFL Premier League career with the Hawks including including back-to-back premierships in 2005-2006.
Beard was on fire up forward kicking eight of the Saints 14 goals as the Saints ran out 14.7-91 to 8.10-58 winners.
Kaiden Ritchie showed the benefits of a strong pre-season joining Stewart in the midfield mix and playing one of his most influential games to date.
Travis Magyar made a welcome return to first grade after being plagued by shoulder injuries over the past two years.
An under-manned Saints division two team had a big loss to Muswellbook Cats falling 5.4-34 to 22.10-142.
The Saints women’s team were brave losers against the Cardiff Hawks.
Several players were absent including star forward Jess Cassidy, who was playing with the Sydney Swans against the GWS Giants at the SCG, and were unable to make interchanges.
The Saints were exhausted at the end of the game, but stuck to their game plan throughout holding the Hawks scoreless in the final term.
Midfielder Taylor Quinton-Widl, Sarah James and Amanda Smith were the Saints best.
Saints 7.2, 8.3, 11.3, 14.7-91
Cardiff 1.3, 3.5, 4.8, 8.10-58
Saints: Goals: W. Beard 8, H. Matheson, A. Damico, J. Taranto, M. Greaves, B. Stewart, J. Button; Best: B. Stewart, K. Ritchie, T. Magyar, M. McKee, W. Beard, M. Greaves
Saints 3.2, 3.2, 5.3, 5.4-34
Cats 5.2, 12.5, 17.8, 22.10-142
Saints: Goals: J. McFadyen, J. Lloyd; Best: K. Macey, L. Jones-Mashman, A. Threadgate, L. Nevin, C. Sargent, T. Grosveld
Saints 0.0, 1.1, 2.1, 2.2-14
Cardiff 3.3, 4.4, 7.4, 7.4-46
Saints: Goals: S. James, T. Quinton-Widl. Best: T. Quinton-Widl, A. Smith, M. Goodridge, S. James, M. Jackson, C. Sullivan