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REAL NRL: Maitland delivers the goods on Easter Monday

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The Maitland Pickers maintained the rage with a 20-12 victory over a spirited South Newcastle Lions on Easter Monday.

In front of a large crowd at No 1 Sportsground, the Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL) powerhouse secured its third consecutive win of 2023 before heading into a round four bye.

Spectators also had front-row seats to a classic forward battle between Maitland’s representative duo James Taylor and Jayden Butterfield and South Newcastle props Brendon Simpson and Frank-Paul Nuuausala, with the latter ex-NRL star spending a stint in the sin bin as tempers flared throughout the showdown.

The Pickers held a narrow six-point lead at the break but were made to work hard for the triumph.

Both sides threw everything at each other in the opening stages.

And, it wasn’t until the 20th minute that Maitland broke the deadlock.

After repeated sets of six in Lions’ territory, crafty five-eighth Chad O’Donnell sliced through to touch down. Brock Lamb landed the conversion for a 6-0 margin.

The hosts then suffered a blow when Newcastle Rebels rep Lincoln Smith left the field with an injury.

But, the visitors fared no better, with centre Jarrod Flanagan a further casualty, too.

Despite that setback, and in the face of a South Newcastle onslaught, the Pickers defended valiantly to go into the sheds ahead 6-0.

Maitland surged further in front, just minutes into the second half, on the back of a Lions’ error.

In-form winger James Bradley made them pay dearly when he dived over in the corner. Lamb added the extras for a 12-0 scoreline.

South Newcastle responded in the 50th minute with an excellent team try to Marshall Sing out wide. Mitchell Black, one of the team’s best on the day, reduced the gap to 12-6.

The Pickers lost another man soon after when interchange player Harrison Spruce was stretchered from the field, leaving them short on the bench.

A Lamb penalty, however, lifted Maitland to 14-6.

Six minutes later, skipper Alex Langbridge darted out from dummy half to score in a handy position. Lamb made no mistake, pushing the advantage to 20-6.

The Lions refused to surrender with big Lachlan Piper barging his way over. Black converted, the outfit trailing 20-12.

With time running out, South Newcastle threw the ball around but Maitland kept its line intact to remain undefeated.

In other Easter long weekend fixtures, unbeaten Wyong Roos and Cessnock Goannas overpowered the Western Suburbs Rosellas and Kurri Kurri Bulldogs 20-10 and 42-16 respectively.

The Macquarie Scorpions accounted for the Northern Hawks 26-8.

On Good Friday, The Entrance Tigers opened their season account with a 34-16 win over the Lakes United Seagulls.

Maitland Pickers v South Newcastle Lions at No 1 Sportsground. Photos; Rod Thompson

Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League

Denton Engineering Cup

Round three results:

  • Wyong Roos d Western Suburbs Rosellas 20-10
  • Cessnock Goannas d Kurri Kurri Bulldogs 42-16
  • Macquarie Scorpions d Northern Hawks 26-8
  • The Entrance Tigers d Lakes United Seagulls 34-16
  • Maitland Pickers d South Newcastle Lions 20-12
  • Bye: Central Newcastle Butcher Boys

Round four draw:

Saturday 15 April

  • 3pm: Lakes United Seagulls v Northern Hawks (Cahill Oval)
  • 3pm: Western Suburbs Rosellas v Cessnock Goannas (Harker Oval)
  • 3pm: Macquarie Scorpions v Kurri Kurri Bulldogs (Lyall Peacock Field)
  • 3pm: Wyong Roos v Central Newcastle Butcher Boys (Morry Breen Oval)

Sunday 16 April

  • 3pm: The Entrance Tigers v South Newcastle Lions (EDSACC Oval)
  • Bye: Maitland Pickers

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