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REAL NRL: Five teams ready to battle for 2022 crown

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And, then there were five.

The Maitland Pickers, Central Newcastle Butcher Boys, Macquarie Scorpions, Cessnock Goannas and South Newcastle Lions will contest the Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL) finals series.

The “home and away” season ended at the weekend with the Matt Lantry-coached Pickers claiming top spot, and the minor premiership, with 31 points – two ahead of the Butcher Boys.

The Scorpions (22 + 166), Goannas (22 + 134) and Lions (22 + 29) all finished level, with 11 wins apiece, however Macquarie enjoyed the better for and against record.

The Wyong Roos (16), The Entrance Tigers (15), Lakes United Seagulls (10), Western Suburbs Rosellas (9) and Kurri Kurri Bulldogs (4) rounded out the table.

It comes after Maitland served notice to its rivals in the last round, with a hard-fought 12-8 victory over Cessnock at Baddeley Park on Saturday.

Central Newcastle also maintained its winning momentum by accounting for The Entrance 26-6.

Macquarie and South Newcastle head into the semi-finals with form on the board, too, knocking over Lakes United 30-8 and Kurri Kurri 26-8 respectively.

In the remaining fixture, Wyong ended its year on a high, pipping Western Suburbs 38-34.

Real NRL general manager Marc Glanville admitted he was keenly awaiting the upcoming month of footy.

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

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

“The quality of league has been first-class this season and I’m expecting that to only get better in the play-offs.”

The Pickers, who dropped just two matches in 2022, will sit out week one of the semis, with the Butcher Boys facing the Scorpions at St John Oval, Charlestown, on 20 August and the Goannas and Lions going head-to-head 24 hours later at Baddeley Park.

After dealing with the impacts of COVID-19 over the past couple of years, as well as several hurdles, all teams are keen to write their name on the silverware next month.

Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL)

Denton Engineering Cup

Round 18 results:

  • Central Newcastle Butcher Boys d The Entrance Tigers 26-6
  • Maitland Pickers d Cessnock Goannas 12-8
  • Macquarie Scorpions d Lakes United Seagulls 30-8
  • South Newcastle Lions d Kurri Kurri Bulldogs 26-8
  • Wyong Roos d Western Suburbs Rosellas 38-34

2022 play-off draw:

Semi-final 1

Saturday 20 August at St John Oval, Charlestown

  • 11.10am: Under-19s – South Newcastle Lions v Western Suburbs Rosellas
  • 12.25pm: Reserve grade – Northern Hawks v Western Suburbs Rosellas
  • 2pm: Denton Cup – Central Newcastle Butcher Boys v Macquarie Scorpions

Elimination semi-final

Sunday 21 August at Baddeley Park, Cessnock

  • 11.10am: Under-19s – Maitland Pickers v Macquarie Scorpions
  • 12.25pm: Reserve grade – Macquarie Scorpions v Lakes United Seagulls
  • 2pm: Denton Cup – Cessnock Goannas v South Newcastle Lions

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