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Ivanhoes withstood a strong challenge from a much-improved Atherton side to begin their 2014 David McCoy Homes Cairns Key Real Estate Cairns District Rugby League A Grade campaign with a 34-22 win at Roosters Stadium on Saturday night.

The Knights, who just missed out on a finals spot last season, surged into a 26-10 lead at half-time before being pegged back by an aggressive Atherton outfit, who finished bottom of the ladder last season.

But the visitors managed to hold on for Trent Barnard’s first win as captain, with fellow centre Jacob Burns scoring twice on debut, and Reece Munster, James Burns, Bruce Baragud, James Watson and Nathan McMullen also bagging tries.

Atherton’s tries came from Waylon Joseph, Josh Webb, Richard Lepori and hooker Jarrod Burton.

Ivanhoes coach Alan Benn said he was happy with his side’s performance, particularly debutants Jacob Burns and Kieron Laifoo, as well as half-back Watson.

“I’m happy to take the two points,” said Benn.

“We kept to our game plan and our players kept their discipline together pretty well in the second half when Atherton came at us harder.

“It was a solid effort from the boys after a decent pre-season, and we’ve definitely got our eyes on finals footy this year.

“Jacob, Kieron and James really deserve a special mention, we’ve unearthed some good ones there, and Trent led the boys well and was a steadying influence.

“We’ve got some natural leaders in our team anyway, but Trent has been given the extra responsibility and he’s responded really well.”

Defending premiers Kangaroos flexed their muscles against Brothers with a resounding 52-10 victory at Vico Oval.

Centre James Kerwick grabbed a hat-trick and kicked a goal, while Josh Mene, Bradley Stephen, Jared Allen, Rob Amber, Kepa Sebasio and Jake Leumann also crossed in the nine-try romp.

It was a nightmare start for new Brothers coach Chey Bird, who only had tries from winger Freddie Fauid and half-back Eddie Daniel to celebrate.

New Innisfail player-coach Ty Williams got his tenure at the Leprechauns off to a perfect start after his side beat Mossman-Port Douglas 36-18 at Callendar Park.

Reigning Gold Medal joint winner Rod Jensen grabbed a brace of tries, while Williams also scored on his return to the Leprechauns.

Mossman put up a superb showing on one of the longest road trips in the CDRL, and will give Sharks coach David Grainer reason to be optimistic for the remainder of the season.

Last season’s beaten Grand Finalists Southern Suburbs edged out an impressive Yarrabah outfit 30-26 in their clash at Jilara Oval.

Meanwhile, Tully showed strong form with a convincing 32-4 victory over Edmonton Storm at Tully Showground on Saturday night.

Mareeba Gladiators had a bye.

2014 David McCoy Homes Cairns Key Real Estate A Grade – ROUND 1 RESULTS

Saturday 8 March

Innisfail 36 (Jensen 2, Topliss, Savage, Stepanoff, Williams, Koraba tries; Topliss 3, Koraba goals) def Mossman-Port Douglas 18 (Lightning 2, Oui tries; Hayes 3 goals) at Callendar Park, Innisfail.

Tully 32 (Verney 2, Hughes, Tauli, Miglio, Stone tries; Hughes 4 goals) def Edmonton 4 (Kusa try) at Tully Showground.

Ivanhoes 34 (Jacob Burns 2, Munster, James Burns, Baragud, Watson, McMullen tries; Baragud 3 goals) def Atherton 22 (Joseph, Webb, Lepori, Burton tries; Power 2, Molloy goals) at Roosters Stadium, Atherton.

Sunday 9 March

Kangaroos 52 (Kerwick 3, Mene, Stephen, Allen, Amber, Sebasio, Leumann tries; Amber 5, Stephen 2, Kerwick goals) def Brothers 10 (Fauid, Daniel tries; Daniel goal) at Vico Oval.

Southern Suburbs 30 (Day 2, C. Henley, Davies, A. Henley, J. Murgha tries; Riesen 3 goals) def Yarrabah 26 (Garrett 2, F. Murgha 2, Bann tries; Garrett, S. Ambrym, C. Murgha goals) at Jilara Oval.