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REAL NRL: Goannas confident of overcoming Siejka loss


Cessnock captain-coach Harry Siejka is convinced his chargers can lift in his absence in the opening weekend of the Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL) play-offs.

The Goannas skipper and talented centre Jarred Anderson were both wiped from Sunday’s elimination showdown, against the South Newcastle Lions at Baddeley Park, after each received a one match ban from the judiciary.

The pair played major roles in elevating the coalfields outfit to fourth spot on the ladder, narrowly missing third by the barest of margins.

“To be honest, I’m not overly thrilled about it,” Siejka said.

“It’s a tough pill to swallow.

“You do all the hard yards throughout the year, then get rubbed out for a couple of minor offences.

“It’s bittersweet, especially on the eve of the semis.

“I’ve had a clean record during my career, so it’s hard to cop.”

Despite that setback, Siejka remains upbeat about the Goannas’ chances of staying in the premiership race.

“I’m very confident the boys can get the win,” he said.

“We’ve assembled a terrific squad; we have a lot of handy young players who can step up and fill a role.

“We’ll welcome a few guys back, too, like Sam Mataora and Tyrone Nean, who missed our last clash.

“There’s also a number of things we’re trying, in regards to how we’ll face the Lions.

“At training on Tuesday, we looked very sharp.

“If anything, with Jarred and I out, it probably brings more of a running dynamic to our team, which I’m pretty excited to have a look at.

“Our side isn’t based around one or two players – and that’s the way we’re dealing with it.

“We’ve got enough blokes to do the job.”

South Newcastle finished on the same points as Cessnock, 22, with the honours shared between the two clubs in 2022.

The Lions roared 22-14 in round five, while the Goannas responded via a 42-16 thumping in their second meeting.

“Souths will be tough,” Siejka told the Newcastle Weekly.

“They’ll be a lot different to the team we met at Cessnock a couple of weeks ago.

“I’m expecting a much tougher opposition.

“But, in saying that, I think it’s going to be a very entertaining match.

“Our last hit-out against [minor premiers] Maitland, even though it was a 12-8 loss, was a good measuring stick of what to expect.

“We’re really looking forward to it.

“It’s semi-final football, so it’s a different beast.

“If we turn up with the right attitude, I believe we’ll have a real good crack.”

In the first semi-final, at St John Oval on Saturday, the Macquarie Scorpions stunned the Central Newcastle Butcher Boys 36-18.

Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL)

2022 play-off draw:

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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