The Maitland Saints will need to regroup after losing their third game in a row to Singleton Roosters.
The Roosters maintained their mastery over the Saints dating back to the 2016 Black Diamond Division 1 grand final which they won in blustery conditions by 27 points.
Once again the Saints struggled in strong winds and went down ironically by the same margin from the grand final in Saturday’s game at Max McMahon Oval.
The loss will almost certainly hand the minor premiership to Wyong Lakes who play Newcastle City on Saturday, while the Saints have the bye.
The Magpies would draw equal on points with Maitland at the top of the ladder but have a superior percentage already going into the game against the Blues.
Singleton drew Maitland into an arm wrestle in the blustery conditions and the young Saints were unable to match the Roosters again in tight contested footy.
The Saints finished the regular season with two losses, both to Singleton, after playing a high-tempo, running game.
Maitland have been able to spread the ball from defence, but the wind made pin-point delivery difficult and instead of lowering their sights and finding a closer target the Saints blazed away with ineffective long kicks with the wind.
Chris Pedler, Mick Norton, Dustin Spriggs, Harry Harbrow, Tim Sheldon and Riley Newstead were the Saints best.
The Saints will meet Wyong Lakes in the major semi-final on Sunday, August 20, at the Adelaide Street Oval on the Central Coast.
The winner progresses straight to the grand final, while the loser gets a second chance in the preliminary final the following week.
Meanwhile, the Maitland Saints women’s team tuned up for the first round of the finals with a 41-point win against Singleton.
Sarah Burns was best afield yet again, booting four goals in tricky conditions.
Meagan Casserly kicked two goals and Krystal Davis got the other as Maitland posted 7-6.48 to Singleton’s 1.1-7.
Maitland set up the win with a five-goal first quarter with the wind.
Singleton remained without a goal until late in the final term but they battled hard through to the end keeping Maitland goalless in the second term and restricting them to just one goal with the wind in the third.
Maitland hosts elimination finals in the GE BDAFL women’s and BDAFL reserve grades on Saturday.
The Saints women play Wyong Lakes in the late game starting at 3.15pm and the club has urged a big crowd to come along and support the team.
Gosford play Killarney Vale in the other women’s elimination final which starts from 1.15pm. Reserve grade games start from 9.15am.