REIGNING premiers Regals proved they will again be the team to beat in this year's women's premier league hockey when they smashed last year's grand final opponent Souths, 4-0 in the opening round of the competition.
Regals' experience, especially in controlling the ball in the offensive half, and their ability to make direct passes proved the telling factor against Souths, who fielded one of their youngest teams ever in the history of the club.
With Teresa Blair and Jeanine Watson controlling the infield and Kiane Lowe and Katy Logan ever-threatening in attack, Regals appeared to be in control from the opening whistle.
But credit must be given to Souths, who took the field minus five of last year's grand final team.
For the Lions, Mikala Fulmer and Lee Crawley were strong in defence while Ashley Ninness and Yasmin Skene provided some attacking flair.
Central scored a 2-0 win against University with Emily Lane and Gabby Purcell outstanding, providing limited opportunity for the students to launch attacks.
For the first match of the season the University side showed they have the potential to win games, especially if Chris Brady and Lauren Chew can continue the form shown against Central.
However, officials need to settle on a first line-up to allow combinations to be formed.
In the other match Tigers scored a 1-0 win against Oxfords in a match that could have gone either way.
The game was played at a slow pace with very little running attacking play.
In the men's premier division an early season start has been blamed for some teams failing to field full-strength sides for the opening rounds.
Many players were unavailable due to summer sports and work commitments.
Reigning premiers Norths found it difficult with six of their 2012 grand final team absent in a 7-3 loss to Maitland.
Adding more misery to the loss was a double by new Rams striker Jarrod Reeves, the 2012 leading goal scorer while playing for Norths.
A near-strength Souths outfit thrashed a depleted Tigers side 13-0 with Sam Mould notching five goals for the Lions.
Tigers recruited new blood in the off season but played without seven regular first graders.
University found the going tough, losing 4-1 to a near full-strength Gosford side who a week earlier qualified for the Hunter Power Cup final.
In the other match last year's grand finalists, The Entrance, convincingly beat Wests 7-1.