Blacks teams keen to break long premiership drought

RUGBY UNION 

The Maitland Blacks will have two cracks at breaking a premiership drought on Saturday with second and third grades lining up in grand finals.

Despite both being minor premiers this year, neither grade has taken out their respective Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union competitions since 1999, one of the club’s landmark seasons, which included four minor titles, three major premierships and the club championship.

Thirds have gone close to rectifying this twice, with grand final appearances in 2010 and in 2001 but victory eluded them both times.

In fact the main pieces of silverware claimed by the club during that period – apart from a few individual honours, grand final runners-up mugs and the occasional carry of the Hawthorne Cup – are the fourth grade or­ ­equivalent competitions taken out by the Blacks in 2001 and 2006.

Blacks president Danny Lewer wants to­ ­rectify this in 2012.

“Coming second isn’t good enough any more,” he said.

“We have got close a number of times before in a few grades but we haven’t been able to get over the line.

“But the boys are confident and determined to make sure it happens this time.”

The Blacks will be one of just three clubs represented on grand final day with Maitland, Hamilton and Merewether Carlton dominating the premier division in 2012.

“This is a massive club deal for us,” Lewer said.

“Not just having a couple of teams in with a good shot of winning a grand final but there are only three clubs involved so to have two sides in is really good.”

Lewer will line up in third grade alongside the rest of the executive committee from the club (vice-president Ben Emmett, treasurer Rob Auer and secretary Ryan Vesper) in what he described as a “hands on” approach to rugby. 

Thirds will take on Hamilton in their decider, which kicks off at 10.15am, while seconds face Merewether Carlton at 1.15pm.

Hamilton and Merewether meet in the colts (11.45am) and first grade (3pm) grand finals.

All matches are scheduled for Newcastle No.2 Sportsground. 

The Blacks have a supporters bus scheduled to leave Marcellin Park at 9.15am and tickets can be purchased by contacting Dan Gollan on 0402 119 193. 

Live coverage of all matches can be heard online from the Ross Allen and the team at All Sports Radio.

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