The Waratahs enter the 2019 NHWRU season as defending champions, and begin their title defence against Hamilton on Saturday. Image via Stewart Hazell/NHRU.

The Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union Women’s premiership returns this weekend, boasting an expanded six-team competition and a merger between regional heavyweight Easts and the University of Newcastle.

The Waratahs will begin the season looking to defend their championship, after they overpowered former nine-time champions Wanderers 69-5 to win their first women’s title upon their return to the NHWRU.

The defending champions will begin their title defence this Saturday afternoon, when they come up against the returning Hamilton Hawks. The opening round clash will take place at Waratah Oval, with kick off planned for 4.30pm.

Merewether Carlton begin their season against the Medowie Marauders on Saturday afternoon.

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2017 champions Merewether Carlton will also be in action at 4.30pm on Saturday, when they welcome the Medowie Marauders to Gibbs Bros Park and back into the women’s XV-format in the Hunter.

Finally, Easts-University will take to the field for the first time in their merged capacity, locking horns with travelling north-west rivals Maitland. The third and final match of the opening weekend will be hosted at 4.30pm at Hawkins Oval.

Keep up with all the NHRU Womens scores at matchcentre.rugby.com.au.