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REAL NRL: Goannas ready for Coalfields derby with Bulldogs


One team is undefeated this Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL) season while the other is yet to taste success.

But, that won’t count for anything when the high-flying Cessnock Goannas tackle the winless Kurri Kurri Bulldogs at the Cessnock Sports Ground on Thursday 6 April.

So far in 2023, Cessnock has knocked over the South Newcastle Lions 52-12 and newcomers Northern Hawks 34-22 to sit atop the ladder while Kurri Kurri slumped to losses against defending premiers Maitland Pickers 44-10 and the Wyong Roos 26-4.

The Bulldogs suffered another blow during the week, too, when Jack Tamburrini, Michael Steele and Cooper Collins were all suspended for indiscretions from the previous round.

However, Goannas captain-coach Harry Siejka remains wary of his Easter opponents.

“It’s a Coalfields derby, that says it all,” he explained.

“We’re looking forward to it.

“The boys have only had a short turnaround, we’ll be concentrating on the basics.

“We need to stick to our game plan… I felt we didn’t do that against the Hawks.

“So, we’ll keep things simple – run the ball hard, tackle hard.

“Kurri Kurri is the type of side, which is capable of a win early on in a season.

“And, they’re a different line-up to that of last year.

“But, we must show up with the right attitude as well.”

Siejka admitted he wasn’t overly happy with Cessnock’s performance in round two.

In fact, the Hawks led 12-10 at oranges before the Goannas clicked into gear, thanks to a Harry O’Brien hat-trick.

“It was one of those games we’re expected to win,” he said.

“And, sometimes, they’re probably the toughest.

“Northern obviously lifted after a defeat the previous week.

“I don’t think we found our groove until 10 minutes into the second half.

“So, it was disappointing to come in at the break knowing we were behind because we weren’t playing to our structure or what we’re capable of.

“However, in saying that, we still scored 30-odd points and Harry’s effort was a great reward.

“I’m pretty pleased with the guys for the way they kept turning up when we were down to 12 men in the latter stages.”

In other 6 April clashes, the Western Suburbs Rosellas host the unbeaten Roos at Harker Oval (7pm) and the Hawks face the Macquarie Scorpions at Tomaree Sports Ground (8pm).

Good Friday features the showdown between The Entrance Tigers and Lakes United Seagulls at EDSACC Oval from 3pm.

Then, at 2pm on Monday 10 April, the Pickers lock horns with the Lions at Maitland No 1 Sportsground, with the Central Newcastle Butcher Boys receiving the bye.

Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League

Denton Engineering Cup

Round two results:

  • Maitland Pickers d Lakes United Seagulls 38-24
  • Macquarie Scorpions d The Entrance Tigers 16-8
  • South Newcastle Lions d Central Newcastle Butcher Boys 40-22
  • Wyong Roos d Kurri Kurri Bulldogs 26-4
  • Cessnock Goannas d Northern Hawks 34-22
  • Bye: Western Suburbs Rosellas

Round three draw:

Thursday 6 April

  • 7pm: Western Suburbs Rosellas v Wyong Roos (Harker Oval)
  • 8pm: Cessnock Goannas v Kurri Kurri Bulldogs (Cessnock Sports Ground)
  • 8pm: Northern Hawks v Macquarie Scorpions (Tomaree Sports Ground)

Friday 7 April

  • 3pm: The Entrance Tigers v Lakes United Seagulls (EDSACC Oval)

Monday 10 April

  • 2pm: Maitland Pickers v South Newcastle Lions (Maitland No 1 Sportsground)
  • Bye: Central Newcastle Butcher Boys

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