IT had been 587 days since a competitive game of hockey had been played in the region.
Ideal weather set the scene for the return of action in the East Gippsland Hockey Association.
Sale and Wellington launched the season with the women's and open teams taking the pitch under lights on Friday.
The Sale women team got their premiership defense off to a strong start with a 14-0 win. Irish recruit Valeria Saunders found the back of the net four times, while Sarah Boag scored three, Prue McNaughton, Jenny McGuinness and Stacey Palmer two, and Jacqueline Southall one.
The rematch of the 2019 open grand final didn't disappoint.
Sale took the lead in the opening minutes off the stick of captain-coach Mick Palmer, and doubled its lead mid-way through the first half with a Will Page goal.
Best-on-ground, Wellington's Premier League player Harry Broad closed the margin shortly before the break, setting-up an exciting second half.
Sale controlled the ball for the majority of the second half, but was held off until late in the match when goals to Chris Ray and Mick Palmer secured a 4-1 to the five-time defending premier.
In the under 13s on Saturday morning, Sale put on a dominant display, winning 10-0 with Josh Gibb scoring seven goals.
Sale came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 in the under 15s.
The under 18s match was a tight tussle with Wellington holding the upper hand for most of it, winning 4-1.
MAFFRA'S women began their season in top form, defeating Swan Reach 6-1 on Saturday at the Gippsland Regional Sports Complex.
Jessica Cull and Caitlin Frisina scored two goals each, while Kate Steinmann and Kahlia Hillbrich each added a goal. Molly Ward scored for Swan Reach.
The open match was tight for most of the night before Swan Reach went away late to win 3-1.
Swan Reach scored its first goal in the first half through Jason Lavell, however Maffra came back on level terms when Hamish MacGregor scored in his open debut. Swan Reach proved to be too strong with David Comer bagging two goals.
In the under 18s, Maffra won a see-sawing match against Swan Reach, 4-3.
Maffra took the lead early through Hamish MacGregor, but Swan Reach responded with two goals through Tyson Brindley and Ryan Smethhurst. MacGregor equalised the scores once again before Josh Ward scored Swan Reach's third.
Lachie White equalised and then topped of the game with the winner of a penalty corner taken after the final whistle.
Swan Reach came from a goal down to defeat Maffra 3-1 in the under 15s.
In the under 13s, Maffra and Swan Reach drew 1-1, with Leila Roberts scoring the equaliser in the final seconds for the home side.
WELLINGTON will this Friday night host Swan Reach in women's and open matches at the GRSC, from 6.30pm and 7.55pm respectively. The clubs' junior sides will meet on Saturday morning.
Maffra will then host Nagle afternoon, culminating with the women's match from 4.07pm and open from 5.20pm.
Sale will play at Orbost on Saturday in all grades, except the open, as Orbost is unable to field a team this season.