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REAL NRL: Pickers dig deep to upstage Scorpions in fiery battle

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The Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL) grand final replay had it all at the weekend… a send-off, four sin-binnings and a thrilling finish.

But, despite that, 2022 Denton Engineering Cup champions Maitland Pickers eventually prevailed 25-16 over the Macquarie Scorpions at Maitland No 1 Sportsground on Saturday 13 May.

At one stage, in the second half, it was 12 on 10 after hometown lock Sam Anderson received his marching orders following a heated melee and was joined by team-mates James Taylor and Alex Langbridge on the sideline.

Macquarie’s Bayden Searle also spent time cooling his heels.

So, the clubs’ next showdown, most likely in the 2023 play-offs, should be a cracker.

Maitland Pickers tryscoring machine James Bradley. Photo: Michael Gorton Images

The hosts looked sharp early when Brock Lamb kicked into open territory and winger James Bradley raced through to score. Although the former missed the conversion, Maitland led 4-0.

In the 19th minute, Lamb found a rampaging Anderson in support, who crashed his way over the line. On this occasion, he added the extras for a 10-0 margin.

Almost immediately, Langbridge popped a short ball to Jayden Butterfield and the Scorpions were powerless to stop him. Lamb raised the flags and the advantage to 16-0.

Macquarie responded a minute from the break when second-rower Jordan Noble grabbed a well-deserved try. Holland failed to convert, leaving his side trailing 16-4.

The visitors continued to narrow the gap.

Cody Bryant sold a dummy and burrowed through near the posts. Holland made no mistake, leaving the scoreline 16-10 in the Pickers’ favour.

Then, in the 60th minute, tempers flared.

In the wrap-up, Anderson was sent off for an alleged head butt, while Taylor (third man in) and Langbridge (back-chatting) departed the field, too.

The Scorpions also suffered a blow, with playmaker Searle being sin-binned for his role in the fracas.

With Maitland on the back foot, quick thinking by Bryant saw him scoot across for a double. Holland then levelled the match at 16-all.

It appeared the Pickers would eventually succumb, due to the additional workload in defence, but the players lifted another couple of gears.

Incredibly, they sent the ball wide and Will Nieuwenhuise touched down in the corner. Even though Lamb pushed the shot astray, Maitland hit the front 20-16.

A penalty to Chad O’Donnell made it a six-point ball game at 22-16 with nine minutes on the clock.

Then, a fed-up referee gave Holland “10 in the bin” for what looked like interference around the ruck.

Soon after, Lamb landed a field goal for 23-16.

And, O’Donnell put the icing on the 25-16 cake with another successful penalty in the dying stages.

Macquarie Scorpions fullback Matt Cooper was a handful at the weekend. Photo: Michael Gorton Images

In other Saturday fixtures, the South Newcastle Lions held the Western Suburbs Rosellas at bay 18-12 and the Wyong Roos defeated a gallant Northern Hawks 22-16.

Twenty-four hours later, the Central Newcastle Butcher Boys accounted for Lakes United Seagulls 33-8 while competition leaders Cessnock Goannas, Kurri Kurri Bulldogs and The Entrance Tigers enjoyed a bye.

Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League

Denton Engineering Cup

Round seven results:

  • South Newcastle Lions d Western Suburbs Rosellas 18-12
  • Maitland Pickers d Macquarie Scorpions 23-16
  • Wyong Roos d Northern Hawks 22-16
  • Central Newcastle Butcher Boys d Lakes United Seagulls 33-8
  • Byes: Cessnock Goannas, Kurri Kurri Bulldogs, The Entrance Tigers

Round eight draw:

Saturday 20 May

  • 3pm: Cessnock Goannas v Lakes United Seagulls (Cessnock Sportsground)
  • 3pm: Kurri Kurri Bulldogs v The Entrance Tigers (Kurri Kurri Sports Ground)
  • 3pm: Wyong Roos v South Newcastle Lions (Morry Breen Oval)

Sunday 21 May

  • 3pm: Western Suburbs Rosellas v Maitland Pickers (Harker Oval)
  • 3pm: Central Newcastle Butcher Boys v Northern Hawks (St John Oval)
  • Bye: Macquarie Scorpions

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