WOLLONGBAR-Alstonville sent a strong message to their Far North Coast Rugby rivals by thrashing Grafton Redmen 41-10 at Lyle Park Wollongbar on Saturday.
With all the pre-season talk surrounding heavyweights Lennox Head, Lismore and Ballina, the Pioneers, indicated they'll be a force to be reckoned with in 2012.
The visitors were outplayed in every facet of the game as their early season of woe continued.
Once again the Redmen leaked far too many points in defence as the Pioneers ran in six tries with bench player James Vidler crossing for a hat-trick
Grafton captain-coach Brad Lloyd admitted the Redmen are still a work in progress but added his players are in a desperate need of a mental overhaul in attitude.
"They (Wollongbar) blew us away in the first 20 minutes ... we never turned up to play," a disappointed Lloyd said.
"Once again our minds were not on the job. For some reason one week we turn up to play and the next week we get off to another poor start.
"It's first-grade footy and the players need to understand you need to turn up with the right attitude and purpose."
Starved of possession in the opening half the Redmen went to the break down 22-5 as Pioneers' gun five-eighth Jake McIntyre controlled proceedings behind a dominant pack of forwards.
"They had a big pack and we were always on the back foot," Lloyd said.
"Their five-eighth, who I was told was not quite 18, orchestrated their backline as we gave him far too much space.
"We were getting off our line but there was too much arm grabbing in defence instead of using the shoulder."
The Redmen will be on the road for the third week in succession next Saturday when they take on the Casino Bulls and for Lloyd a home game can't come quick enough.
"It's our third away game in a row so no, it's not an ideal start to our season," he said.
"We don't have a home game until round 4 but I suppose we just have to deal with it.
"Casino will be tough as we will have three front-rowers unavailable due to wedding commitments."