The Newcastle Rebels stamped its class as the premier rugby league region following a crushing 48-8 victory over Canberra in the 2021 Tri Series at the Maitland Sportsground on Saturday.
After accounting for the Illawarra Steelers 36-4 to capture the Steel City Challenge last month, the hosts continued their winning ways with a nine-try-to-two rout over the ACT outfit, with Cessnock Goannas second-rower Wyatt Shaw bagging a well-deserved hat-trick.
Man of the match honours went to Central Newcastle Butcher Boys fullback Cameron Anderson, who caused Canberra headaches every time he touched the ball.
“It was a terrific effort,” Rebels coach Aaron Watts said.
“Especially, to play at home and represent Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League like that against a strong side.
“The most pleasing aspect was the guys’ composure.
“We had a flat bit, but the boys came back and put on 24 points.
“It’s been good to win both matches in the Tri Series – and highlights the talent in the local competition.”
The Rebels hit the ground running, with quick hands along the backline sending Macquarie winger Joe Woodbury over in the corner for a 4-0 lead after seven minutes.
Soon after, Cessnock hooker Billy Gilbert burrowed his way through from dummy half. AJ Davis added the extras for a 10-0 scoreline.
A bit of Tyrone Roberts-Davis brilliance in the 14th minute saw Cessnock team-mate Shaw capitalise near the uprights. Davis made no mistake with the conversion, putting the Rebels ahead 16-0.
Roberts-Davis then grabbed a four-pointer for himself to extend the margin to 20-0.
Canberra lifted its intensity in the latter stages of the half and was rewarded when centre Gideon Afemui touched down, as the combatants entered the sheds at 20-4.
But, the Rebels responded after the break.
Davis, the crafty Cessnock halfback, placed a deft kick behind the defence and Anderson was jolly on the spot. Roberts-Davis stepped up to the plate, landing the goal for a 26-4 lead.
Within the blink of an eye, skipper and Kurri Kurri captain-coach Mitch Cullen split Canberra wide open for try number six. Roberts-Davis increased the advantage to 32-4.
Shaw then powered his way over the line from close range and, when Roberts-Davis converted, the home team led 38-4.
Canberra finally had something to cheer about when Joshua Mitchell found the tryline to reduce the gap to 38-8.
However, that seemed to spur on the Rebels again.
Shaw snared his third of the afternoon in the 63rd minute and Maitland’s Matt Soper-Lawler showed blistering speed to evade a number of desperate opponents.
Roberts-Davis added the icing to the cake with another successful goal.
Newcastle Rebels 48 (Wyatt Shaw 3, Joe Woodbury, Billy Gilbert, Tyrone Roberts-Davis, Cameron Anderson, Mitch Cullen, Matt Soper-Lawler tries; Roberts-Davis 4, AJ Davis 2 goals) defeated Canberra 8 (Gideon Afemui, Joshua Mitchell tries)
2021 Tri Series squads
Newcastle Rebels: 1 Cameron Anderson (Central Newcastle), 2 Joe Woodbury (Macquarie), 3 Royce Geoffrey (Macquarie), 4 Tyrone Roberts-Davis (Cessnock), 5 James Bradley (Maitland), 11 Mitchell Cullen (c – Kurri Kurri), 7 AJ Davis (Cessnock), 8 Jayden Butterfield (Maitland), 9 Billy Gilbert (Cessnock), 10 James Taylor (Maitland), 15 Jarred Anderson (Kurri Kurri), 12 Wyatt Shaw (Cessnock), 13 Connor Kirkwood (Cessnock); 14 Matt Moon (Macquarie), 16 Joe Gardiner (Macquarie), 17 Robert Tuliatu (Cessnock), 18 Matt Soper-Lawler (Maitland)
Canberra: 1 Matthew Parsons, 2 Dean Aylott, 3 Aiden Kawiri Kusu, 4 Gideon Afemui, 5 Dillon Rota, 6 Thomas Casey, 7 Nofoaiga Limoni, 8 Sonny Tupuola, 9 Joshua Mitchell (c), 10 Richard Holani, 11 Joshua Baker, 12 Nukurua Ngere, 13 Romann Leota; 14 Cyprian Ale, 15 Silafono Titiuti, 16 Manu Vanisi, 17 John Papalii