Sunday's Presidents Cup fixture at Spooner Oval saw two halfbacks return west and do battle in their first game for their respective new sides.
It was Adam Fearnley who had the last laugh over fellow Bathurst junior Harry Siejka though as the Hills Bulls scored a 20-4 opening round win over the Western Rams.
Fearnley plays in the Penrith Panthers lower grades but with those competitions cancelled for the year the opportunity to join a Bulls side loaded with NRL experience came up.
He grabbed it with both hands on Sunday, scoring one try and helping his new side start its cup campaign with a commanding win.
"My brother and my old man have been ringing me all week letting me know they were going to be in to me but it was good to get out here and get a win," Fearnley said.
"It was good to get back on the field. It was a weird couple of weeks and I didn't really know any of the boys but it was good to see."
The Bulls forwards were the difference, making huge metres through the middle against a vastly smaller Rams pack.
That cut the Bulls' lead back to 10-4 but two tries inside the opening 15 minutes of the second stanza took the game away from the Rams.
Siejka, playing his first game in the region since leaving Bathurst for the Penrith Panthers in 2008, and halves partner Mitch Burke were put under huge pressure by the Bulls defence time and time again but the Mudgee Dragons recruit remained upbeat post-game.
"For what we've done and the amount of prep we had I think we held our head high," Siejka said, the Rams having only trained together three times.
"There was a few times when they got some easy tries but I thought the scoreline was a bit flattering towards them and you could see the size difference.
"I was proud of the boys. They dug in and gave it a really good crack so we can take a lot of positives out but it was disappointing not to get the win.
"It showed we're not an easybeat and we can compete with these teams."
HT | TRY! @WesternRams on the board!— Nick Guthrie (@Nj_Guthrie) July 19, 2020
Some lovely play early in the set involving McKellar and Brien gets them in attacking range. A Siejka kick is fumbled and Forbes boy Mitch Andrews is there to score. Rams needed that.
Hartwig misses kick. 10-4 to the Bulls.#PresidentsCup
The Rams started the better but they couldn't make early possession count and on 15 minutes the Bulls struck through fullback Shannon Gardiner.
The lead grew to 10-0 when Fearnley collected his own bomb which was spilt by the otherwise impressive Jesse Wighton and went over.
Andrews pounced on another loose ball right on half-time after the Bulls couldn't control a Siejka crossfield kick.
That gave the hosts a boost but the match was soon taken away from them as Jerry Key and Dean Matterson crossed in a powerful six-minute burst from the Bulls.
They were the final points as both sets of players sides tired and battled cramp after such little build-up.
And while it wasn't the perfect return home, it was still special for Siejka to have on the green and white.
"It's unreal and good to be playing football," he said.
"It's great to be out in the bush again and I think this is my first game in the bush for about 15 years so I'm stoked to be out here.
"It's just a good bunch of blokes to be playing with too, they're all good kids."
Siejka, while frustrated at times, never stopped working throughout the contest while Wighton, Andrews and his centre partner Jackson Brien, and hooker Jack Beasley all stood out in a beaten side.
Forwards Jake Betts and Ethan McKellar were also full of effort against the imposing Bulls pack featuring ex-NRL players Tim Robinson, Daniel Harrison, Taniela Lasalo, and hooker Heath L'estrange.
- HILLS BULLS 20 (Shannon Gardiner, Adam Fearnley, Jerry Key, Dean Matterson tries; Gardiner 2 goals) defeated WESTERN RAMS 4 (Mitch Andrews try).