Reigning premiers Cessnock and runner-up Souths are set to open the Newcastle Rugby League season with a grand final replay later this month.
The 2021 draw, yet to be officially released, has the Goannas hosting the Lions at Cessnock Sportsground on March 27 in the most recent draft circulated by email on Monday.
Cessnock, who went down 20-4 to a Knights lower grade squad on February 20, beat Souths 20-6 in last year's decider.
Newcastle RL newcomers Wyong and The Entrance, increasing the first-grade competition to 10 teams and 18 rounds this year, are both due to kick-off with home games on the Central Coast against the Butcher Boys and Macquarie respectively.
Maitland, who won a statewide President's Cup in 2020, are due to visit Coalfields neighbours Kurri Kurri in round one while Lakes and Western Suburbs meet at Cahill Oval.
The second round sees The Entrance eyeing off a Friday night encounter against Lakes as part of the Easter long weekend.
No club games are scheduled for May 15-16 and June 26-27, leaving the door open for representative opportunities potentially with Canberra and Illawarra.
NSW Rugby League has introduced a separate conference-style tournament with champions from Newcastle, Illawarra, Ron Massey Cup and a wildcard converging at the end of the year.
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