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REAL NRL: Lions powerhouse Afflick eyes grand final prize


South Newcastle Lions star Jacob Afflick believes a victory in this weekend’s Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL) grand final would be a fitting reward for everyone involved in the club.

The Merewether organisation has enjoyed a stellar season under the watchful eye of coach Andrew “Bobcat” Ryan, securing second spot on the ladder following a 10-match winning streak.

But, the ride isn’t over just yet.

Souths V Cessnock Denton Cup Prelim Qualifier

Souths stormed home in the preliminary final, beating the Cessnock Goannas 28-22, to book a berth in the Denton Engineering Cup decider against the Maitland Pickers at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday 2 September.

The Lions trailed 20-10 at one stage, however responded with three late tries to keep their premiership dream alive.

“How good was that [win]?” Afflick said.

“It’s an unreal feeling.

“We’ve probably done it the hardest way possible… but came away with it in the end.

“I guess we’re known for our never-say-die attitude; we showed that again (against Cessnock).

“We were down 14-4 at the break and then by 10 points, 20-10, in the second half.

“However, we rallied from behind and managed to score the try to put us in front six minutes from the siren.

“So, we never give up.

“You should always fight to the end… and I think we proved that out there.”

The jubilation in Afflick’s voice was clearly noticeable.

And, you soon find out why.

He’ll not only run onto the Newcastle Knights’ home ground with his beloved team-mates but his talented sibling as well.

“I’ve been with Souths for seven years now,” the powerhouse winger said.

“But, to do it with my brother Justin, that’s massive for me and my family.

“I couldn’t be any happier.

“It’s also a great way for the guys to repay the Lions for the faith that they’ve shown in us, the players, and everything they do for us.

“All the helpers and volunteers who make our jobs easier each week, this is for them, too.

“The mood in the club is great, however this (a grand final appearance) will lift everyone.

“We’re just a bunch of young mates who love hanging out with each other… and Bobcat doesn’t mind having a good time with us as well.

“It’s such a terrific atmosphere; there’s not one bad word said about anyone.”

Souths V Cessnock Denton Cup Prelim Qualifier

Maitland got the jump on Souths 20-12 in round three, repeated the dose 24-10 on Sleapy’s Day and claimed the major semi 24-22.

However, Afflick is confident the Lions can stop the all-conquering Pickers when it matters most.

“We’re narrowing the gap,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

“I’m positive we can knock them over; our last meeting a fortnight ago proved it.

“I think we made three errors in the first half and they scored off two.

“So, you’ve got to go with them; you can’t give them anything.

“We know it’ll be a tough game.

“We’ll need to be on song from the kick-off.

“But, we have to watch our discipline, it let us down against the Goannas, too.

“In that first half [at the weekend], we could not have made it any harder for ourselves.

“I’m pretty sure the penalty count would’ve been five or six against us.

“They (Cessnock) were just rolling down field, getting easy metres, and we spent that whole 40 minutes basically defending.

“If we do that against a team like Maitland, they’ll make you pay every day of the week.”

Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League

2023 play-offs:

Preliminary final results

  • Denton Engineering Cup: South Newcastle Lions d Cessnock Goannas 28-22
  • Reserve grade: Western Suburbs Rosellas d Cessnock Goannas 22-8
  • Under-19s: Western Suburbs Rosellas d Maitland Pickers 20-12

Grand final draw

Saturday 2 September

McDonald Jones Stadium

  • Gates open: 9.45am
  • Under-19s: 10.15am – Lakes United Seagulls v Western Suburbs Rosellas
  • Reserve grade: Noon – Maitland Pickers v Western Suburbs Rosellas
  • Denton Engineering Cup: 2pm – Maitland Pickers v South Newcastle Lions

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