HENWOOD Park sent a strong message to the Pascoe Cup competition on Sunday when they upstaged defending premiers Hanwood in a thriller at Rawlings Park.
Henwood Park had earmarked the shortened 2020 season as a 'development' year but they proved there may be a lot more in store with a 4-3 win in the season opener.
The Hawks came out with all guns blazing under new coach Scott Elphick and raced to a 3-0 half-time lead.
Hanwood clawed one back shortly after the break before Jake Ploenges' second goal, from a penalty, looked to put the result beyond doubt.
But the Griffith visitors made a final charge and scored two goals within five minutes late in the contest to get back to 4-3.
Things got even more interesting when Henwood Park went down to 10 men after losing Dillon Blackwool to a red card.
Hanwood had their chances to level but Henwood Park were able to hold on for an impressive round one win.
Elphick was thrilled with the win.
"It's awesome. Especially after (The Daily Advertiser) said we were going to finish sixth and lose this game," Elphick said.
"It was the team talk. I don't like being told we're going to come sixth and we're going to lose this game.
"The guys did really well."
Elphick admitted he got a little nervous late in the contest.
"I was, I was pacing in a cage," he laughed.
"When our keeper (Nathan Trinder) when down in the first half I started worrying a little bit and then our number four, Chris Hart, popped his shoulder out, I knew we were in a little bit of trouble but Isaac and Joel Tancredi played an awesome game and so did Matty Kain.
"If it wasn't for those three guys, holding and talking and giving us what we needed with the younger guys, because that's what the younger guys need, they need those older guys, and they did a good job."
Ploenges scored a double, while Ashley Woehler and Joel Tancredi also found the back of the net for Henwood Park.
Daniel Johnson scored two for Hanwood, while Michael Cimador chipped in with the third.
Overall, Elphick was pleased with the first up performance.
"They stuck to the team task and that's what I'm happy with," he said.
"Scoring goals and that, it's not about that for me. It's about getting the guys to actually play together as a team to score that goal, and that's what we did. We did the team task. I coach a bit different to this league. They did the team task.
"That second half, yeah we were a little bit all over the shop, but the ressies guys stepped up and actually played some good football and they did well, so I'm happy with that."
PASCOE CUP - ROUND ONE
Henwood Park 4 (J Ploenges 2, A Woehler, J Tancredi) d Hanwood 3 (D Johnson, M Cimador)
Lake Albert 2 (J Manton, L Bryder) d Tumut 0
Leeton United 4 (F Gardner 2, C Edenden, A Raso) d Wagga United 0
Young 15 (P Hislop 3, C Hislop 3, I Hines 3, D Cameron 3, R Lacey 2, M Brown) d South Wagga 1 (A Jones)