It was everything you would want from a Coalfield derby, but in the end it spelt the end of the road for the Pickers in season 2019.
Maitland bowed out in week one of the finals, losing a tough, uncompromising match 14-10 to Cessnock in wet, blustery conditions at Maitland Sportsground.
In many ways it was a match that could have gone either way, but it would have been unfair for the Goannas to lose - they were away from home, they led from the start, they lost a man to the sin-bin with the match in the balance, but still they didn't fold.
It spelt the end of Luke Dorn's two-year reign as Maitland Pickers' mentor, and while the team has struggled with consistency all season, he would had to have been pleased with the effort his boys put in. They were certainly gallant in defeat, coming back from 14-nil down early in the second half to make it a nailbiting finish.
It was a clash that epitomised derby clashes.
Some of the body contact in the forward exchanges could be heard from the grandstand; there was excitement with Maitland trailing by a try but on the attack near the tryline with less than two minutes to go; there was controversy with Cessnock's Scott Briggs controversially sin-binned and a penalty overturned last in the second half, there was niggle aplenty; the crowd was heavily involved ...
It was an old fashioned Coalfields derby all right.
The Goannas, running with the strong wind at their back, dominated the firsdt half.
With five-eight Scott Briggs calling the shots, they dominated field position and, on the back of a Briggs 40-20, prop Brendan Hlad stepped his way through the Pickers defence to open the scoring.
It was a soft try - let's face it, Hlad's not renowned for his stepping - but in fairness to Maitland, this was their only real lapse.
Two penalty goals gave Cessnock a 10-nil lead at half time. But the strong breeze was probably worth 10 points, so it was still very much game on.
But Cessnock got a great boost after just 90 second of the second half when Maitland five-eighth Frazer Price made a poor read in defence which resulted in a strong finish from Cessnock's Joe Woodbury who scored out wide - 14-nil and Maitland with a hurdle to climb.
But Maitland Cessnock games have been dominated by momentum swings and this was no different.
Two quick tries to Maitland, the first to winger Isaac Upton from a price grubber kick, and then to replacement hooker Hayden Grainger after Sam Anderson had split the Goannas defence wide open, made it 14-10 with 17 minutes to go.
With interchange forward player Peter Cronin ferocious in defence, and Anderson getting stronger as the match went on, it looked like Maitland - with the wind at their back - could pinch it in the dying minutes.
A scrum, ten metres out, two minutes to go .. it was set for a grandstand finish.
But off the first tackle Maitland's Brenton Horwood, standing out of the scrum dropped the pass.
A self inflicted wound to end the season. In some ways, it summed up Maitland's season.