WHILE the Coffs Coast 9s on Saturday will signal the start of rugby league action in the region, the serious stuff is set to begin the weekend after Easter.

The official draw for 2018 has been released and the season is set to start off with a bang when Coffs Harbour hosts reigning premier and Clayton Cup holder, the Grafton Ghosts.

The season starts on the weekend of April 7 and 8 and this year's grand final will be played on Sunday, September 9.

The 2018 season promises to be the most even in many years with several sides recruiting heavily over the off season pointing to improved performances.

One such club, Orara Valley, will start its season with a local derby at Woolgoolga.

Sawtell will have to wait a week before starting its season after being handed the bye for the opening round before the Panthers kick off their season in the second round with a home game against Bellingen.

The Ghosts, unbeaten last year, will have to be on their game from the outset if they're to continue that unbeaten run.

They have been handed the toughest start to the season facing the teams they met in in the 2017 major-semi and grand final in the opening two rounds.

The bulk of South Grafton's travel will come later in the season as in the first four rounds the furthest the Rebels have to travel is to Woolgoolga. 

GROUP 2 FIXTURE

Round 1 - April 7 and 8
Coffs Harbour v Grafton Ghosts, Bellingen v Nambucca Heads, Woolgoolga v Orara Valley, South Grafton v Macksville. Bye: Sawtell.

Round 2 - April 14 and 15
Sawtell v Bellingen, Nambucca Heads v Coffs Harbour, Macksville v Woolgoolga, Grafton Ghosts v South Grafton. Bye: Orara Valley.

Round 3 - April 21 and 22
Coffs Harbour v Sawtell, Bellingen v Orara Valley, Woolgoolga v South Grafton, Grafton Ghosts v Nambucca Heads. Bye: Macksville.

Round 4 - April 28 and 29
Sawtell v Nambucca Heads, Orara Valley v Coffs Harbour, Woolgoolga v Grafton Ghosts, Macksville v Bellingen. Bye: South Grafton.

Round 5 - May 5 and 6
Coffs Harbour v Macksville, Bellingen v South Grafton, Nambucca Heads v Orara Valley, Grafton Ghosts v Sawtell. Bye: Woolgoolga.

Round 6 - May 12 and 13
Orara Valley v Sawtell, Woolgoolga v Bellingen, Macksville v Nambucca Heads, South Grafton v Coffs Harbour. Bye: Grafton Ghosts.

Round 7 - May 19 and 20
Coffs Harbour v Woolgoolga, Sawtell v Macksville, Nambucca Heads v South Grafton, Grafton Ghosts v Orara Valley. Bye: Bellingen.

Round 8 - May 26 and 27
Woolgoolga v Nambucca Heads, Bellingen v Grafton Ghosts, Macksville v Orara Valley, South Grafton v Sawtell. Bye: Coffs Harbour.

Round 9 - June 2 and 3
Coffs Harbour v Bellingen, Orara Valley v South Grafton, Sawtell v Woolgoolga, Grafton Ghosts v Macksville. Bye: Nambucca Heads.

June 9 and 10 - Queens Birthday weekend

Round 10 - June 16 and 17
Orara Valley v Woolgoolga, Nambucca Heads v Bellingen, Macksville v South Grafton, Grafton Ghosts v Coffs Harbour. Bye: Sawtell.

Round 11 - June 23 and 24
Coffs Harbour v Nambucca Heads, Woolgoolga v Macksville, Bellingen v Sawtell, South Grafton v Grafton Ghosts. Bye: Orara Valley.

Round 12 - June 30 and July 1
Sawtell v Coffs Harbour, Orara Valley v Bellingen, Nambucca Heads v Grafton Ghosts, South Grafton v Woolgoolga. Bye: Macksville.

Round 13 - July 7 and 8
Coffs Harbour v Orara Valley, Bellingen v Macksville, Nambucca Heads v Sawtell, Grafton Ghosts v Woolgoolga. Bye: South Grafton.

Round 14 - July 14 and 15
Sawtell v Grafton Ghosts, Orara Valley v Nambucca Heads, Macksville v Coffs Harbour, South Grafton v Bellingen. Bye: Woolgoolga.

Round 15 - July 21 and 22
Coffs Harbour v South Grafton, Sawtell v Orara Valley, Bellingen v Woolgoolga, Nambucca Heads v Macksville. Bye: Grafton Ghosts.

Round 16 - July 28 and 29
Orara Valley v Grafton Ghosts, Woolgoolga v Coffs Harbour, Macksville v Sawtell, South Grafton v Nambucca Heads. Bye: Bellingen.

Round 17 - August 4 and 5
Sawtell v South Grafton, Orara Valley v Macksville, Nambucca Heads v Woolgoolga, Grafton Ghosts v Bellingen. Bye: Coffs Harbour.

Round 18 - August 11 and 12
Woolgoolga v Sawtell, Bellingen v Coffs Harbour, Macksville v Grafton Ghosts, South Grafton v Orara Valley. Bye: Nambucca Heads.

Finals:
August 18 - Elimination Semi-final
August 19 - Qualifying Semi-final
August 25 - Minor Semi-final
August 26 - Major Semi-final
September 2 - Preliminary Final
September 9 - Grand Final



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