PORT Macquarie Sharks will begin their 2002 campaign in earnest at the Regional Stadium on Saturday evening - against Cudgen in round two of the Country Challenge Cup.
Having been afforded the luxury of a bye in the opening round, the Group 2 premiers entered the draw and were fortunate enough to draw a home match against the Group 18 team.
"The home draw is a great bonus, particularly coming on the back of last weekend's big footy here," Sharks' secretary Steve Rankin said yesterday.
"Everyone's talking about rugby league and getting a home match here just keeps the whole momentum going."
In the opening round of the $40,000 Country Rugby League-organised cup, Cudgen accounted for Casino 18-12 to advance to the next round.
Also among the round one winners were Wollongong Bulls, Lismore Marist, Moree, Helensburgh and Lithgow Workers.
Last season the Sharks reached the semi-finals of the Cup, where eventual winners Wyong delivered the knockout punch.
"We did very well last time around and another good show would go a long way to getting out season off to a great start," Rankin said.
Saturday's match at the Regional Stadium will kick off at 6pm with the club officials searching hard to arrange an opponent for the enthusiastic under 18 Sharks.
"The 18s have been training since October and are really keen to get a game but not everyone's quite as ready as they are," Rankin commented.