The 32nd Annual New South Wales Touch Association Vawdon Cup commenced Friday night 20 July 2007 at the Tempe and Bankstown venues across 10 highly competitive divisions.The action in the Men’s and Women’s Premier League was fast and furious with some high quality clashes punctuating opening night in Sydney’s elite affiliate based competition.In the Men’s Premier League, Easts Roosters and the Parramatta Eels played out a gritty 1-1 draw at Bankstown at 7.00pm.Both teams were understandably rusty with the combatants trading blows without being able to land the knockout punch to swing the game in their favour.The return of Troy Malcolm was a big boost to the Eels and the gifted playmaker was Paramatta’s best along with Daniel Barton.Chris Hill gave his all for Easts who settled for a share of the competition points with a promise of better things to come.In the 7.50pm clash, 2006 Vawdon Cup Grand finalists the Canterbury Bulldogs flexed their muscles in a 6-3 victory over a committed Manly Sea Eagles combination that never stopped trying.The Doggies raced to a 2-0 lead at half time and kicked on to go 4-0 up midway through the second half before Manly got on the board.Harry Berryman and veteran Brett Gillard were best for a Manly side that found some late combination to breath respectability back into the scoreline.2007 Australian World Cup Men’s Open star Joel Willoughby was in cracking form for the Dogs having a hand in four touchdowns, whilst winger Nick Athas, and debutant Michael Petrie set a great foundation for Canterbury’s victory.In the match-up of the round at 8.40pm, new kids on the block the Hornsby Lions, got their season off to the best possible start with a 6-4 win, shocking 2006 Vawdon Cup premiers Penrith Panthers at Bankstown.The experienced Dave Roberts guided the Lions around the park and the mercurial Dylan Hennessey provided the knockout blows, terrorizing the Panthers’ defence close to the line. In the nightcap game at 9.30pm, 2006 NSWTA State Cup champions Wests Magpies got home with a hard fought 6-4 triumph over a very willing Cronulla Sharks outfit at Tempe.The two clubs battle annually for the Mc Donald-Russell Shield and there was a lot of emotion surrounding the season opener. The game was preceded by a minute’s silence for former Lebanon, Mets, and Wests Manager Matthew Essey who lost a brave battle with cancer in May 2007. The inspired Magpies came out on fire, crossing for a touchdown after only 35 seconds for a 1-0 lead.Both sides struggled to find rhythm, but settled down to business and traded touchdowns without either team really consolidating decisively.Cronulla hit the front 4-3 midway through the second half, courtesy of some great work from Australian Mixed Open general Matt Tope who was leaving it all out on the park for the Sharkies. With an upset looming, Wests’ Australian Men’s Open World Cup aces Daniel Rushworth and Jason Stanton stepped up their game and combined to put on 3 unanswered touchdowns, providing Wests with a 6-4 victory, the McDonald-Russell shield, and a fitting tribute to Matthew Essey.In opening round action in the Women’s Premier League, perennial big guns the Canterbury Bulldogs sent an ominous warning out to the rest of the competition with a 9-1 pasting of Manly Sea Eagles at 7.00pm at Tempe.Bulldogs Australian Women’s Open star Kelly Woods began the Vawdon Cup season with three slashing touchdowns for the 2006 State Cup champions.Louise Winchester showed the sort of form that swept her to the 2006 NSWTA Women’s Player of the Year at the Blues Dinner on Saturday night, and kid sister Clare and Kate Fitzsimmons chimed in to help engineer the 9-1 demolition.2006 Premiers Easts Roosters opened their title defence with a comfortable 5-2 win over competition newcomers, the Wollongong Devils.Easts were wary of the worthy challenge that the speedy Wollongong young guns would provide and were on their game to avert the potential threat.The Tri-colours produced a solid team effort punctuated by some star turns from 4-time World Cup winners Amanda and Kristy Judd who controlled the game as only they can.2007 Australian Mixed Open gun Stephanie Sorrensen and Nadina Teskera also performed well for Easts, whilst Mel Mc Call and Rachael Beck showed the way for the Devils. The young pups from Wollongong had their opportunities and acquitted themselves well against the benchmark team of the competition and will give the competition a real nudge when they find their feet and adjust to the step up of speed and standard as the season unfolds.In the 8.40pm clash at Tempe, Wests Magpies got their season off to a flyer with a comfortable 6-1 win over Cronulla Sharks.Jess Howe tried hard to lift a rusty Cronulla, but Wests had too much fire power with standout Australian 20 Years Women’s squad member Nicky Albery carving up the Sharkies to spearhead her team to a comfortable victory.In the 9.30pm battle at Bankstown, the Central Coast Dolphins had a tidy 3-0 win over Penrith Panthers to complete the first round of games in season 2007.This week in the Men’s Premier League, Cronulla will take on a chastened defending premiers Penrith at 7.50pm at Bankstown, whilst Easts Roosters will battle with Wests Magpies at 7.50pm at Tempe.Hornsby Lions will look to continue on their winning way against the Manly Sea Eagles at Bankstown at 8.40pm, and the Canterbury Bulldogs will square off against the Parramatta Eels at Tempe at 9.30pm.In Women’s Premier League games Cronulla, looking for a better second up performance meet Penrith at 7.00pm at Bankstown. Premiers Easts Roosters will clash with Wests Magpies at Tempe at 7.00pm.The red hot Canterbury Bulldogs will have a tougher time against the young Wollongong Devils line-up at Tempe at 8.40pm, and the Central Coast Dolphins will test their mettle against the Manly Sea Eagles at Bankstown at 9.30pm.Second round action in Division 1 and 2 Men’s and Women’s, Mixed 1 and 2, and Men’s Seniors and Masters will continue as teams look to shake off opening night jitters and settle into the ten week competition which promises to increase in quality right across the board as the season progresses.TFA will bring you all the news and views from Round Two of the 2007 Vawdon Cup.