An injury-hit Maitland Blacks staged a late charge but were beaten 19-12 by Merewether Carlton at Townson Oval.
The Blacks were down 14-0 at half-time and when Merewether scored first after the break to take the score to 19-0 it was always going to be a tough ask.
But the never-say-die attitude of this year’s team kicked in and the Blacks scored tries through Michael Howell and then Jono Maloney out wide.
Maloney converted the first try but was unable to slot the points from out wide.
Maitland went into the game with an entirely new front row, missing hooker Rhys Watson, tight-head prop James Robinson and loose-head prop James Curran.
They were also without suspended right flanker Nick Davidson, centre Jye Estatheo and wing Chris Martin.
Bulldogs can’t match Wests
Kurri Kurri Bulldogs were unable to pull off the toughest assignment in Newcastle Rugby League, beating Western Suburb on their home patch.
The Bulldogs were without star playmaker Terence Seu Seu, who copped a one-week ban for a head-high tackle this week, and were 32-16 losers after a promising start trailing just 10-6 at half-time.
Valentine forces late draw with Magpies
The Maitland Magpies led twice but were unable to hold out a 10-man Valentine at Cahill Oval on Saturday.
The Magpies opened the scoring through a Matt Thompson penalty in the 20th minute but were back on level terms 18 minutes later when Reece Pettit’s header hit the back of the net.
Valentine were down to 10 men soon after the break when Josh Carroll was sent off in the 46th minute with a second yellow card.
Josh Dutton-Black continued a rich vein of form to give Maitland a 2-1 lead, but Jalon Brown equalised things with a great strike in the 72nd minute.
Meanwhile, the Weston Bears had a 1-0 loss to Newcastle Jets Youth at the end of a big week for the club.
The young Bears pushed Maitland to go down 3-2 in last Saturday’s derby and were 2-0 losers to Newcastle Jets in a friendly on Tuesday night.