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REAL NRL: Competition heats up as play-offs loom


With five rounds remaining until the play-offs, Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL) boss Marc Glanville is predicting the competition to heat up even further.

After the weekend’s action, the Maitland Pickers still head the table on 21 points, just three ahead of the South Newcastle Lions (18), with the Central Newcastle Butcher Boys (17), Macquarie Scorpions (16) and Cessnock Goannas (16) all within striking distance.

Not entirely out of the race, mathematically speaking, are the two Central Coast outfits, the Wyong Roos (12) and The Entrance Tigers (10).

The Western Suburbs Rosellas (4), Lakes United Seagulls (4) and Kurri Kurri Bulldogs (4), however, will focus on the final stages of the Denton Engineering Cup with an eye on 2023.

“I think the season has been incredibly close so far,” Glanville said.

“If a team is a bit off their game on the day, then any side can win, regardless of where they sit on the ladder.

“It’s probably one of the closest competitions I have seen in a long while.”

And, the general manager doesn’t envisage much will change come semi-final time.

“I’m anticipating some really tight, hard-fought matches,” Glanville said.

“It won’t surprise me if a few need to go into extra-time.

“The quality of football has been first-class this year and I’m expecting that to only get better in the semis.”

The Pickers, the pre-season favourites, have suffered a couple of rare defeats at the hands of the Scorpions (21-20) and the Tigers (20-16), opening the door for the likes of the Lions, Butcher Boys, Macquarie and the Goannas to launch legitimate claims for the premiership crown.

That all adds to the intrigue in 2022, according to Glanville.

“It’s certainly anyone’s title,” he said.

“Over the past month, I think Maitland has come back to the field as they have had two losses and a draw.

“In some ways, they’ve lost their invincible tag, which is due to a few injuries etc.”

The dark horse, it seems, is South Newcastle, under the guidance of former NRL star Andrew Ryan.

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the Lions,” Glanville said.

“At the start of the year, I thought they might struggle to make the top five and possibly only just avoid the wooden spoon again, which they picked up in 2021.

“However, they came out of the blocks firing and have played some quality football, which will possibly see them finish second on the table.”

The upcoming play-offs might also provide NRL scouts with “food for thought” for their respective rosters, courtesy of the emergence of numerous bright young talents.

“Our competition is extremely strong with some high-quality players,” Glanville told the Newcastle Weekly.

“I struggle to see why the Newcastle Knights continue to look elsewhere when we have the likes of Cameron Anderson, Brock Lamb, Harry O’Brien, Jayden Butterfield and Malikk Deyaolu, for example, in our ranks.

“They wouldn’t look out of place at the highest level.”

Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL)

Denton Engineering Cup

Round 13 results:

  • Cessnock Goannas d Kurri Kurri Bulldogs 50-0
  • South Newcastle Lions d Wyong Roos 32-10
  • Maitland Pickers d Lakes United Seagulls 28-10
  • Macquarie Scorpions d The Entrance Tigers 50-0
  • Central Newcastle Butcher Boys d Western Suburbs Rosellas 28-24

Round 14 draw:

Saturday 2 July

  • 2pm: The Entrance Tigers v Kurri Kurri Bulldogs (EDSACC Oval)
  • 3pm: Cessnock Goannas v South Newcastle Lions (Cessnock Sports Ground)
  • 3pm: Maitland Pickers v Wyong Roos (Maitland No 1 Sportsground)

Sunday 3 July

  • 3pm: Western Suburbs Rosellas v Macquarie Scorpions (Harker Oval)
  • 3pm: Central Newcastle Butcher Boys v Lakes United Seagulls (St John Oval)

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