After a slow start to the Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL) season, the Western Suburbs Rosellas are beginning to find their feet in the NSWRL Denton Cup.
The Todd Lowrie-coached outfit dropped its opening six matches in 2021, however – in the past month – the side’s stormed into play-off contention on the back of four successive victories.
Even more impressive was the Rosellas’ 16-10 triumph at the expense of 2020 premiers Cessnock Goannas in their previous outing.
It also lifted Wests into fifth spot on the ladder.
“We’re travelling quite well,” secretary Russell Petrie said.
“It’s a pretty young, inexperienced team.
“I guess that’s why we didn’t perform so strongly early on in the year.
“There was a lot of adaption, for those guys, to adjust to that level of footy.
“A bit of pressure results in errors, too, which costs you close games.
“So, they’re just starting to click now.
“They’ll develop more as the season goes on and the years to come.
“That’s our direction these days – looking after our juniors and trying to create pathways for them.
“It will also allow us to reduce our salary cap expenditure.”
Petrie admitted the club wasn’t too worried about the Rosellas’ sluggish form to kick off 2021.
“Todd’s a very good coach, he knows his football,” he said.
“To be honest, we didn’t expect to win many matches this year, based around the level of youth in the side.
“We still had under-19s coming through this season, who are now playing first grade due to injuries in the squad.
“But, the expectation was that we may not win a lot of games; that we might suffer a bit of pain before we actually got the gain.
“We’ve crept into fifth place, so it’s not a bad place to be.
“I think the competition is still pretty tight and anyone can win on the day.
“However, Maitland’s that little bit out in front [at the moment].
“The Pickers have got quite a star-studded team.
“They’ll take a bit of beating in 2021.”
Standing in the Rosellas’ way of five on the trot are the high-flying Macquarie Scorpions, who knocked over the South Newcastle Lions 40-18 in round 11.
The combatants will lock horns at Lyall Peacock Oval, Toronto, on Sunday 20 June from 3pm.
“They’re going alright, too,” Petrie said.
“The Scorpions haven’t spent a lot of money, but they’ve invested very well.
“Macquarie boasts a ton of experience in the side – I think that will tell for them this weekend.
“For us, it just depends on our guys playing error-free footy.
“We’re also dealing with a few injuries from the Cessnock game, which depletes us again a little bit.
“But, we’ll still give it our best shot and see how it goes.”
In other fixtures, on Saturday 19 June, the Goannas host the Pickers in the top of the table clash at the Cessnock Sportsground and the Kurri Kurri Bulldogs face The Entrance Tigers at the Kurri Kurri Sportsground.
Twenty-four hours later, the Central Newcastle Butcher Boys tackle the South Newcastle Lions at St Johns Oval, while the Lakes United Seagulls will go head-to-head with the Wyong Roos at Cahill Oval.
Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League
NSWRL Denton Cup
Round 11 results:
Macquarie Scorpions 40 (Ro Buaserau 2, Royce Geoffrey, Joe Woodbury, Ben Roose, Andrew Sumner, Fletcher Myers tries; Kerrod Holland 6 goals) defeated South Newcastle Lions 18 (Scott Matthews, Jake Lawrence, Jacob Afflick tries; Jason Keelan 3 goals)
Lakes United Seagulls 30 (Matt Cooper, Toni Mataele, Blake Smith, Oskar Muir, Shaun Boss, James Johnson tries; Joel Edwards 3 goals) defeated The Entrance Tigers 6 (Tim Nawaqatabu try; Matthew Killick goal)
Western Suburbs Rosellas 16 (Malu Fiu 2, Liam Wiscombe tries; Logan Radzievic 2 goals) defeated Cessnock Goannas 10 (Jayden Young, Wyatt Shaw tries; Adrian Davis goal)
Maitland Pickers 48 (Kyle Kingston 2, Pat Mata’utia 2, Jayden Butterfield, Daniel Langbridge, Chad O’Donnell, James Bradley tries; Brock Lamb 4, O’Donnell 2, Butterfield, Noah Nailagoliva goals) defeated Wyong Roos 6 (Terence Seuseu try; Lachlan Hanneghan goal)
Central Newcastle Butcher Boys 30 (Randall Briggs 2, Kurt Donoghoe, Dylan Phythian, Cam Anderson tries; Jack Kelly 5 goals) defeated Kurri Kurri Bulldogs 22 (Zeb Dunstan 2, Henry Penn, Barry McGrady tries; Ethan Niszczot 3 goals)
Round 12 draw:
Saturday 19 June –
3pm: Cessnock Goannas v Maitland Pickers (Cessnock Sportsground)
3pm: Kurri Kurri Bulldogs v The Entrance Tigers (Kurri Kurri Sportsground)
Sunday 20 June –
3pm: Macquarie Scorpions v Western Suburbs Rosellas (Lyall Peacock Oval)
3pm: Central Newcastle Butcher Boys v South Newcastle Lions (St Johns Oval)
3pm: Lakes United Seagulls v Wyong Roos (Cahill Oval)