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REAL NRL: Pellow sizzles for Goannas in stunning debut


A sizzling debut put a smile on Harry Siejka’s face as the Cessnock Goannas bounced back to form with a 48-12 triumph over the Northern Hawks.

Everything new fullback Tony Pellow touched turn to gold in his first outing for the Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL) club at the Cessnock Sports Ground on Saturday 1 July.

He terrorised the Hawks in attack, laid on a few tries and grabbed one himself for good measure.

Cessnock Goannas fullback Tony Pellow produced a stunning debut against the Northern Hawks. Photo: Michael Gorton Images

Siejka admitted it was a “pretty impressive performance”.

“I said earlier in the season that Luke Huth is probably the best No 9 not signed by an NRL squad,” the captain-coach told the Newcastle Weekly.

“And, Tony’s possibly the same with the No 1 on his back.

“He had a pre-season in Melbourne; so, you have to be a fair player to get that opportunity.

“Now, he’s returned from full-time with the Wests Tigers… and you could see his class out there.

“He was probably a step above [today].

“To pick up a player like Tony Pellow, you jump over backwards to sign him.

“I think he enjoyed himself, too, especially on Old Boys Day; he had about eight line-breaks.”

The match was evenly poised mid-way through the opening half, with the hosts leading 8-6.

However, a brain explosion by Hawks five-eighth Scott Briggs changed the showdown altogether.

After originally being sin-binned, the playmaker then mouthed off at the referee, who sent him from the field altogether.

That allowed Cessnock to pile on the points.

Although, Siejka wasn’t overly happy with his charges.

“We were clunky but it’s probably what we needed,” he said.

“I don’t think we stuck to our process.

“We wanted to grind them out, grind out a victory, however we tried to score points too early.

Referee Joey Butler gives Scott Briggs 10 in the bin before the five-eighth received his marching orders altogether. Photo: Michael Gorton Images

“Obviously, with Briggs being sent off, there was a lot of space the boys were seeing.

“So, it’s hard to judge when I’m up there in the coach’s box with a bird’s eye view.

“I guess it is still pleasing to get a win the way we did.

“We scored 40-odd points, and missed about five goals, so it could’ve been 50.

“If I’m upset about that, then I’m a bit of a moron,” he added with a laugh.

“I’ll admit, I gave them a spray at the break.

“I thought we were trying to take the easy options; whereas the week before against Maitland, we grinded it out and nearly came away with a victory.

“So, what we dished up in the first half wasn’t acceptable.

“In the second period, we had a bit more running but there are some areas we need to look at.

“It’s not all bad.

“We’ve had a month now where we haven’t won a game of football, so we really needed to get back in the winner’s circle.

“And, to do it by 40 points is pretty good.”

Cessnock Goannas winger Harry O’Brien made a strong return from injury at the weekend. Photo: Michael Gorton Images

Another incentive to prevail was the fact the Goannas celebrated Old Boys Day as well as the reunion of the 2003 premiership-winning Cessnock side, which beat Raymond Terrace 22-20.

“It was a nice touch, combining those two occasions,” Siejka said.

“We had Dan Smailes and the ’03 team come in [to the sheds] and present the heritage jerseys, which we wore.

“There was a really good feeling in the club.

“So, it was great to get a win for that as well.”

Both the Goannas and Hawks fired early shots, however the home side struck in the 11th minute, via Pellow to lead 4-0.

A Brayden Musgrove charge put the visitors on the back foot soon after and Harry O’Brien made them pay. Although Doug Beale missed the conversion, Cessnock led 8-0.

In the 23rd minute, Northern representative centre Timanu Alexander powered his way through. Briggs added the extras to narrow the gap 8-6.

But, the latter’s dismissal virtually ended the Hawks’ hopes.

Almost immediately, winger Honeti Tuha dived over. Beale raised the flags and the margin to 14-6.

Then on the stroke of half-time, Huth darted across the tryline to make it 18-6 at the interval.

And, the floodgates opened for Cessnock following the resumption.

Beale (43rd), Brad Russell (47th), O’Brien (55th) and Huth (58th) touched down to surge ahead 40-6.

Tempers flared in the dying stages of the Cessnock Goannas and Northern Hawks encounter. Photo: Michael Gorton Images

To Northern’s credit, they refused to surrender.

In the 62nd minute, Josh Toole grabbed an intercept, eventually grubbering through to Alexander who found Paul Roberts in support. Danny Vale made it 40-12.

The Goannas iced the match when Kurt Aldridge found the line. Sam Clune extended the scoreline to 46-12.

He then added a penalty after the siren to round out the 48-12 rout.

While the Hawks face the second-placed Wyong Roos next up, Cessnock is preparing to meet The Entrance Tigers.

“It’ll be tough,” Siejka said.

“They’ve got a real big forward pack, a smart hooker, a couple of good outside backs and I like their fullback.

“So, they’ll be another level up.

“The thing for us, we tend to rise for those better sides.

“We’ve got the monkey off our back now… hopefully [today] puts us back in the groove.

“We have a good enough team here, even though we’re still carrying a few injuries and suspensions.

“However, I believe we’ll be alright if we show up with the right attitude and execute a bit better with our game plan.”

In other Denton Engineering Cup fixtures, a Stephen Widders’ hat-trick set the tone for the Western Suburbs Rosellas’ 24-6 triumph over the Macquarie Scorpions, the Maitland Pickers upstaged the Lakes United Seagulls 48-22 and the Roos crushed the Kurri Kurri Bulldogs 64-6, with Lathan Hutchison-Walters and Cooper Bigeni each securing four tries.

On Sunday, the South Newcastle Lions continued their streak at the expense of the Central Newcastle Butcher Boys 32-10 while the Tigers had the bye.

Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League

Denton Engineering Cup

Round 14 results:

  • Western Suburbs Rosellas d Macquarie Scorpions 24-6
  • Cessnock Goannas d Northern Hawks 48-12
  • Maitland Pickers d Lakes United Seagulls 48-22
  • Wyong Roos d Kurri Kurri Bulldogs 64-6
  • South Newcastle Lions d Central Newcastle Butcher Boys 32-10
  • Bye: The Entrance Tigers

Round 15 draw:

Saturday 8 July

  • 2pm: South Newcastle Lions v Western Suburbs Rosellas (Townson Oval)
  • 3pm: Cessnock Goannas v The Entrance Tigers (Cessnock Sports Ground)
  • 3pm: Lakes United Seagulls v Central Newcastle Butcher Boys (Cahill Oval)

Sunday 9 July

  • 3pm: Northern Hawks v Wyong Roos (Tomaree Sports Ground)
  • Bye: Kurri Kurri Bulldogs, Macquarie Scorpions, Maitland Pickers

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