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REAL NRL: Cessnock showcases its premiership credentials

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The Cessnock Goannas have emerged as a genuine Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL) premiership threat in 2023.

In a stop-start affair at the Cessnock Sports Ground at the weekend, the Harry Siejka-coached outfit not only maintained its undefeated start to the season but accounted for competition heavyweights Maitland Pickers 20-12.

The victory also broke a two-year drought for the hosts, who were missing the likes of Harry O’Brien and Jayden Young from their line-up, against their long-time rivals.

“It [the match] was a bit of a grind,” Siejka admitted.

“But, I think it’s a fair indication of where we’re placed at the moment.

“Maitland is the benchmark team.

“So, I’m very pleased with that result, especially leading into the bye.”

While the forwards clash thrilled the vocal crowd, the showdown between former Knights Matt Soper-Lawler (Maitland) and Brayden Musgrove (Cessnock) was worth the admission price alone.

The pair locked horns on numerous occasions, with neither willing to give an inch to his opponent.

However, it was the Pickers who broke the deadlock in the 16th minute.

Fullback Daniel Langbridge linked with centre Gary Anderson to send winger James Bradley over in the corner. Brock Lamb failed to convert, the score remaining 4-0.

The Goannas didn’t hit back until the 35th minute.

A terrific Sam Clune pass found a hard-running Lucas Thomson who crashed through the defence. The latter then added the extras for a 6-4 lead.

Maitland missed a golden opportunity on the stroke of half-time when Lamb was unable to ground the ball following a Bradley grubber.

Even though the playmaker maintained he’d scored, referee Joey Butler thought overwise.

The error proved costly as Cessnock launched a late attacking raid and Clune stepped up several defenders and offloaded to a looming Musgrove in support. Thomson raised the flags and the margin to 12-4 as the sides went into the sheds.

In the 56th minute, the Pickers kept the pill alive and winger Will Nieuwenhuise touched down out wide. Lamb sent the conversion astray, the visitors trailing 12-8.

That soon became 12-all when a smart kick by Lamb resulted in Nieuwenhuise’s second of the afternoon.

It was left to impressive young rake Luke Huth, who dived over from dummy half following a strong Brent Mendyk run, to secure the triumph. Thomson made it three from as many attempts as the Goannas hit the front 18-12.

A penalty in the dying seconds to Thomson put the icing on the cake.

Meanwhile, in other fixtures, a Kerrod Holland field goal was the difference between Macquarie and Central Newcastle in the Scorpions’ nail-biting 19-18 thriller over the Butcher Boys at Lyall Peacock Field.

Lakes United v Western Suburbs

At Cahill Oval, the Lakes United Seagulls registered their second win, 17-14, at the expense of the Western Suburbs Rosellas.

Carl Randall, Cahleb Faulker and inspirational skipper Nicholas Glohe got their names on the tryscorers’ list, with Jack Kelly kicking two conversions and Dylan Phythian a field goal.

For the gutsy Rosellas, Will Mehan, Hayden Loughrey and Kyle Avery dived over the white stripe, with Max Buderus adding a two-pointer.

South Newcastle v Kurri Kurri

Doubles to Travis Peterson and Lewis Hamilton enabled the South Newcastle Lions to overpower the Kurri Kurri Bulldogs 40-16 at Townson Oval.

Jason Boney, Brendan Simpson and Tim Christie also touched down for the “red and whites” while Harry Croker knocked over six goals.

For the Bulldogs, Sam Hunt, Daetyn Tanuvasa and Brock Portsmouth found the tryline, with Ben McIntyre potting a couple of conversions.

On Sunday, in the battle of the Central Coast, the Entrance Tigers ended the Wyong Roos’ winning run, via a 20-8 victory.

With the City v Country representative showpiece this upcoming weekend, the Real NRL returns on 13-14 May.

Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League

Denton Engineering Cup

Round six results:

  • Cessnock Goannas d Maitland Pickers 20-12
  • Lakes United Seagulls d Western Suburbs Rosellas 17-14
  • Macquarie Scorpions d Central Newcastle Butcher Boys 19-18
  • South Newcastle Lions d Kurri Kurri Bulldogs 40-16
  • The Entrance Tigers d Wyong Roos 20-8
  • Bye: Northern Hawks

Round seven draw:

Saturday 13 May

  • 3pm: Western Suburbs Rosellas v South Newcastle Lions (Harker Oval)
  • 3pm: Maitland Pickers v Macquarie Scorpions (Maitland No 1 Sportsground)
  • 3pm: Wyong Roos v Northern Hawks (Morry Breen Oval)

Sunday 14 May

  • 3pm: Central Newcastle Butcher Boys v Lakes United Seagulls (St John Oval)
  • Byes: Cessnock Goannas, Kurri Kurri Bulldogs, The Entrance Tigers

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