The Maitland Pickers broke a seven-year drought against Wests, the Mapgies beat Lambton Jaffas 1-0 to take a huge step to booking a semi-final spot and the Maitland Saints women have made back-to-back finals series by beating Warners Bay.
The news was equally good for the Maitland Blacks who maintained second spot on the Newcastle Hunter Rugby Union ladder with a 58-19 win against University of Newcastle.
And it continued across the Coalfields with the Kurri Kurri Bulldogs defeating Macquarie Scorpions to sit in sixth place equal on 14 points with Wests in fifth.
The Pickers fans again packed the stand at Maitland Sportsground and were kept waiting until the final five minutes for Maitland to take the lead and eventually break a seven-year drought against Western Suburbs.
The Pickers 24-22 win was the club’s first against the Rosellas since the famous one-point victory in the 2011 grand final.
Pickers captain-coach Luke Dorn said he remained confident of the win despite being denied four golden opportunities with passes going forward, a penalty for obstruction and a strip by Wests’ defence in the try zone.
“We showed real character today, each time we were denied a try we just maintained patience put in a strong defensive set and had another try,” Dorn said.
Wests led 22-10 at half-time scoring from a successful 40-20 with two minutes left of the clock.
“We knew we didn’t have to in the first five minutes and kept on sticking to our game plan, putting in a strong defence and building pressure in attack,” Dorn said.
“We four great opportunities going begging we just stuck at it. It was an important team win for us and you are not going to put on 40 points every game, we fought it out.
“I was always confident we could get home in the end.
“It’s an important win for the club as we haven’t beaten them anywhere for seven years.”
The decisive turning point came when Wests winger Willis Alatini lashed out at Maitland hooker Adam Clydsdale in a play the ball just metres from Maitland’s line.
Alatini was sin-binned for 10 minutes with six minutes left on the clock and Wests conceded another penalty to piggyback Maitland into their own half.
Trailing 20-22 the Pickers pressed home their advantage and scored out wide to take the lead for the first time to the delight of the Maitland fans who roared in approval and then waited anxiously until the final siren with a late Wests attack thwarted by a forward pass the last play.
Clydsdale was the Pickers best again with an outstanding performance by fullback Ryan Walsh against his old team.
The Pickers under-19s ended Western Suburbs unbeaten run on Friday night with a 36-0 win.
Bulldogs still alive
The Kurri Kurri Bulldogs season is very much alive after a 38-30 win against Macquarie Scorpions at Lyall Peacock Field on Saturday.
The win leaves the Bulldogs on equal points with Wests, their opponent next week at Harker Oval.
Kurri Kurri resurrected their season with a 20-12 win in the catch-up game against Wests at Kurri Kurri Sportsground last weekend.
If they win next Sunday they host Maitland in the last round needing a win to be assured of finals action.
Magpies a step closer
The Maitland Magpies secured a vital 1-0 away win against second-placed Lambton Jaffas.
If Broadmeadow Magic beat Hamilton at Magic Park, the Magpies fantastic effort will be rewarded with a spot in the finals and the chance to rest some weary warriors.
Maitland’s defence was again at its miserly best keeping their fourth clean sheet in the past six games to ensure Sean Pratt’s 41st minute goal was enough to secure the win.
Pratt was able to pounce of a tremendous effort by Jaffas keeper Brad Swancott to deny Magpies defender Alex Read’s smashing effort which looked certain to go into the top corner.
Read started the play taking the ball from Maitland’s own box raced down the field and tried to put Pratt through with a pass.
The ball deflected back to Read and he launched a shot which after a parry by Swancott finally found Pratt who calmly scored.
Read and teenage defender Zach Thomas were again outstanding in defence. Thomas has been in outstanding form and his switch to centre-back has been a huge part of the Magpies’s run of clean sheets.
Saints book spot in finals
The Maitland Saints women have booked their spot in the finals for the second year running with a 8.13-61 to 5.2-32 win against form side Warners Bay.
It was a winner take all clash in terms of the finals and the Bulldogs were right in the game until the Saints over-ran them with a four-goal final quarter.
Warners Bay’s cause was not helped with their bench cleared of players in the final quarter by injury.
However, the Saints had wrestled control of the game in the third-quarter led by their defence who kept the Bulldogs scoreless for the term.
Anna Fraser was instrumental in shutting down the Bulldogs attack and the Saints built from her efforts.
Jessie Burnham also had a great game kicking three goals, including two from marks in the final term.
The Saints best also included Gabrielle Easey, Leawanna O’Donoghue, Hannah Centra and Amy Worth.
Maitland start their finals campaign this Saturday at Max McMahon Oval which hosts the opening round of the BDAFL women’s finals.
The Saints’ men’s team ended a tough season on a winning note. The Black Diamond Cup team defeated Lake Macquarie 15.8 (98) to 12.12 (84). The reserves beat Lake Macquarie
Blacks decisive winners
The Maitland Blacks fine-tuned their attack with a 58-19 win against University of Newcastle on Saturday.
The bonus-point win keeps the Blacks in second spot and they can achieve their goal of a top-three finish with a final-round win against Lake Macquarie next Saturday.
- Netball A-grade results to come