The Kurri Kurri Bulldogs are one game from the Newcastle Rugby League grand final after sinking Central Newcastle with a 22-0 first-half blitz.
The Bulldogs gave Central a sniff in the second-half with the Butcher Boys getting within 10 points, but Kurri cemented the win in the final stages with two tries much to the delight of a huge parochial crowd at the Kurri Kurri Sportsground.
Kurri forward Brock Gilmour said his team produced their best half of football to steamroll Central in the opening stanza.
Gilmour said wing Barry McGrady was outstanding bamboozling the Central defence with darting and creative runs from dummy-half.
“Barry came to us as a dummy-half and it showed in his reading of the situation,” he said.
Gilmour said when Central exerted pressure in the second half Mitch Cullen stood tall.
“He is such a talented player and just a brute in defence. His strength and willingness to do the tough stuff probably overshadow just how talented he is,” he said.
The win was Kurri’s sixth straight and puts Souths and Lakes on alert.
However, Gilmour said the Bulldogs were not looking beyond next week when they will play the loser of Sunday’s major semi-final between the Lions and Seagulls.
“Seven wins in a row sounds great. We’ll think about eight in a row when we make the grand final,” he said.
Outgoing Central coach Craig Miller believes Kurri Kurri have the ingredients to go all the way in the Newcastle Rugby League finals.
“They were far too good,” Miller said. “They have won six in a row. They had a fantastic following there today and have a lot of belief, and that goes a long way this time of the year.”
Kurri coach Ron Griffiths said the Bulldogsir hard work and positive mindset was coming to fruition.
“To say I’m proud is an understatement,” Griffiths said. “I know where we have come from. To come up with that result is reward for all the hard work we have put in.
“Central are a very experienced team and we were able to set the tone early on. We knew they would strike back in the second half and they did that. Most importantly for us, we weather it and were able to go on with it.”
Brad Murray recovered from a hamstring injury for Central, but it was his opposite Jarom Haines and halves partner Jade Porter who had the major say.
“They compliment each other so well,” Griffiths said. “Jade is the experienced one and Jarom takes them on. They were great as was Ngangarra Barker.”