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REAL NRL: Goannas target another big scalp


Cessnock captain-coach Harry Siejka is “quietly confident” the Goannas can continue to wreak havoc in the Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL) play-offs.

With the mentor watching on from the sidelines at the weekend, the coalfields outfit eliminated the South Newcastle Lions 26-16 from the premiership race at Baddeley Park.

Now, the Goannas have their sights set on the Central Newcastle Butcher Boys at Townson Oval, Merewether, on Sunday 28 August.

“We’re really positive,” Siejka told the Newcastle Weekly.

“With the team we’ve got, I think we’re as good as any side on our day.

“I said before the Lions’ match that if we prevailed on that occasion, it would be a good learning curve for the boys.

“And, it was.

“I’m delighted – and relieved – with the way they played.

“I believe everyone, internally, is pretty happy with how everything’s going at the moment.”

Siejka, a former Australian Schoolboys under-15 star, boasts the experience to steer Cessnock to success this year.

He made his NRL debut for the Penrith Panthers against the North Queensland Cowboys in 2011, before plying his trade overseas with the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, Featherstone Rovers and Bradford Bulls.

And, after signing a two-season deal with the Goannas, the playmaker is keen to maintain the organisation’s winning culture.

“I’m really enjoying my time here,” he said.

“I am not going to lie; it was tough early on dealing with influences within and outside the club.

“However, we sorted all that out.

“At the present stage, everyone’s happy and enjoying their footy.

“So, it augurs well for the future.”

Cessnock will be boosted by the return of Siejka and centre Jarred Anderson from suspension, while club favourite Kori Barber marks his 150th first grade appearance for the Goannas in the all-important showdown.

Meanwhile, in the major semi-final, at Maitland’s No 1 Sportsground on Saturday 27 August, minor premiers Maitland Pickers host the Macquarie Scorpions in the Denton Engineering Cup.

The winner of that encounter progresses directly to the 2022 decider, which will take place at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday 11 September.

Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL)

2022 play-offs

Semi-final 1 results:

Saturday 20 August at St John Oval, Charlestown

  • Under-19s: Western Suburbs Rosellas d South Newcastle Lions 14-12
  • Reserve grade: Northern Hawks d Western Suburbs Rosellas 26-6
  • Denton Engineering Cup: Macquarie Scorpions d Central Newcastle Butcher Boys 36-18

Elimination semi-final results:

Sunday 21 August at Baddeley Park, Cessnock

  • Under-19s: Maitland Pickers d Macquarie Scorpions 34-0
  • Reserve grade: Macquarie Scorpions d Lakes United Seagulls 22-10
  • Denton Engineering Cup: Cessnock Goannas d South Newcastle Lions 26-16

Major semi-final draw:

Saturday 27 August at No 1 Sportsground, Maitland

  • 12.10pm: Under-19s – Lakes United Seagulls v Western Suburbs Rosellas
  • 1.30pm: Reserve grade – Maitland Pickers v Northern Hawks
  • 3pm: Denton Engineering Cup – Maitland Pickers v Macquarie Scorpions

Minor semi-final draw:

Sunday 28 August at Townson Oval

  • 11.10am: Under-19s – South Newcastle Lions v Maitland Pickers
  • 12.30pm: Reserve grade – Western Suburbs Rosellas v Macquarie Scorpions
  • 2pm: Denton Engineering Cup – Central Newcastle Butcher Boys v Cessnock Goannas

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