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NEWRL GALLERY: Magic Round casts a spell over league fans

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Wily mentor Rip Taylor almost cast a spell on the beleaguered Kurri Kurri Bulldogs in the inaugural Magic Round at Newcastle’s No. 2 Sportsground at the weekend.

The Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (NEWRL) outfit, which failed to win a match in 2023, went “oh so close” to upsetting the Wyong Roos in the season opener on Saturday 13 April.

With Taylor taking over the reins, and signing former NRL stars Blake Ferguson and Terence Seu Seu, the Bulldogs looked a totally different team on the paddock.

Kurri Kurri’s Blake Ferguson and Wyong’s Malie-J Townsend lock horns at No. 2 Sportsground. Photo: Michael Gorton Images

And, they were destined for a first-up victory until a late try, followed by a field goal to Bayden Searle in the final 60 seconds, ensured the Central Coast side prevailed 25-24 in a thoroughly entertaining meeting.

Wyong stormed out of the blocks to lead 10-0, but Kurri Kurri responded strongly.

The combatants then went to the break locked at 14-all, with Malie-J Townsend grabbing a double and Kyle Tukapua diving over for the Roos, as Lathan Hutchison-Walters landed a conversion.

For the Bulldogs, Brodie Linnane, Liam Dalibozek and Jack Tamburrini crossed the tryline, with Blake Ferguson booting a goal.

The rivals went blow-for-blow in the second half.

Hutchison-Walters and Sione Vaenuku added tries, with the former kicking another two-pointer.

Josh Griffiths and Jess Wighton did likewise for Kurri Kurri, as Ferguson converted a further attempt.

But, it was Searle’s boot, which proved the difference in the end.

The Entrance’s David Fifita feels the heat at No. 2 Sportsground during Magic Round. Photo: Michael Gorton Images

NEWRL officials would have been thrilled with the response to the new concept that also featured craft brews, food stalls and, of all things, wrestling.

It’s understood the crowd figure exceeded 4,000.

And, the matches – five in total – provided several nail-biting finishes.

In showdown one, The Entrance Tigers surged to a 22-0 margin over the Lakes United Seagulls on the back of a brace by dashing fullback Tony Pellow.

However, whatever coach Ian Bourke said to his players at “oranges” fired them up.

A hat-trick to Cahleb Faulkner put Lakes in the frame again.

With the game hanging in the balance, Fuaimamao Uta touched down to give The Entrance the match-winner 28-24.

Lakes United’s Jack Kelly kicks his team out of danger at the weekend. Photo: Michael Gorton Images

Denton Engineering Cup champions Maitland Pickers kicked off its title defence by downing an improved Northern Hawks 20-10.

The back-to-back premiers held a 12-0 advantage at the interval, via four-pointers to Will Nieuwenhuise and Sam Anderson and a couple of conversions to Brock Lamb.

But, the Hawks rallied with David Dryden and Danny Vale troubling the scorers.

Ex-NRL player Ethan Parry then placed his stamp on the clash to ensure the Pickers left Newcastle victorious.

Next up, the Cessnock Goannas proved too strong for a new-look Macquarie Scorpions 26-6.

However, they didn’t get it all their own way, with a 0-all scoreline after 40 minutes.

It was a different story when the teams resumed their battle, with Joe Woodbury, Mitchell Shaw, Harvey Neville, Wyatt Shaw and Addison Peel posting tries for Cessnock.

In the evening encounter, the Central Coast Butcher Boys overturned a half-time deficit to conquer the Western Suburbs Rosellas 22-8.

NEWRL Magic Round

  • The Entrance Tigers 28 (Tony Pellow 2, Harrison Mulligan, Blake Austin, Fuaimamao Uta tries; Harrison Mulligan 4 goals) d Lakes United Seagulls 24 (Cahleb Faulkner 3, Ryan Potts tries; Jack Kelly 4 goals)
  • Wyong Roos 25 (Malie-J Townsend 2, Kyle Tukapua, Lathan Hutchison-Walters, Sione Vaenuku tries; Hutchison-Walters 2 goals, Bayden Searle field goal) d Kurri Kurri Bulldogs 24 (Brodie Linnane, Liam Dalibozek, Jack Tamburrini, Josh Griffiths, Jesse Wighton tries; Blake Ferguson 2 goals)
  • Maitland Pickers 20 (Ethan Parry 2, Will Nieuwenhuise, Sam Anderson tries; Brock Lamb 2 goals) d Northern Hawks 10 (David Dryden, Danny Vale tries; Ethan Ferguson goal)
  • Cessnock Goannas 26 (Joe Woodbury, Mitchell Shaw, Harvey Neville, Wyatt Shaw, Addison Peel tries; Harvey Spence 3 goals) d Macquarie Scorpions 6 (Malik Deyaolu try; Lucas Thomson goal)
  • Central Newcastle Butcher Boys 22 (Logan Radzievic, Ty Fletcher, Cameron Anderson, Nicholas Ritter tries; Radzievic 3 goals) d Western Suburbs Rosellas 8 (Dyllan Parlane, Patrick Achurch tries)
  • Bye: South Newcastle Lions

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