New competition, same old Northern sub-union rivalry.

Unbeaten McCarthy's Transport Ruapehu and their neighbours, both geographical and points table, Byford's Readimix Taihape, are steeling themselves for a tough start to the new-look Tasman Tanning Division 1 competition at Memorial Park on Saturday afternoon.

With their grade reduced to six teams, five of whom are good enough to beat the others on any given day, Grand Hotel Challenge Shield holders Ruapehu have a handy early points lead, as the sides carry over half of their competition tally from the eight-team first round.

However, given Ruapehu played both of the now-relegated teams