REAL NRL: Wests hold on to title hope

29/06/2018 // by admin

REAL NRL: Wests hold on to title hope ECSTATIC: Wests players celebrate a try for No.3 Simon Williams, far left, during their match against Maitland at Kurri Kurri. Picture: Peter Stoop
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Scenes from the Wests vs Maitland game at Kurri Kurri on Sunday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Scenes from the Wests vs Maitland game at Kurri Kurri on Sunday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Scenes from the Wests vs Maitland game at Kurri Kurri on Sunday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Scenes from the Wests vs Maitland game at Kurri Kurri on Sunday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Scenes from the Wests vs Maitland game at Kurri Kurri on Sunday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Scenes from the Wests vs Maitland game at Kurri Kurri on Sunday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Scenes from the Wests vs Maitland game at Kurri Kurri on Sunday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Scenes from the Wests vs Maitland game at Kurri Kurri on Sunday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Scenes from the Wests vs Maitland game at Kurri Kurri on Sunday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Scenes from the Wests vs Maitland game at Kurri Kurri on Sunday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Scenes from the Wests vs Maitland game at Kurri Kurri on Sunday. Picture: Peter Stoop

TweetFacebookHAVE Western Suburbs emerged from their late-season slump just in time to mount a successful campaign for a third-straight Newcastle Rugby League premiership?

Yesterday’s 36-4 hammering of Maitland at Kurri Sportsground to claim a second straight minor premiership was a massive improvement on the Rosellas’ past month of football.

The dominant right edge of Peter Mannion and Simon Williams was back, the completion rate was up and the control of the ruck was there.

But the victory came against a Pickers side devoid of semi-final hope and so depleted that four players had to be pulled out of reserve grade to fill the bench.

Mercurial hooker Terence Seu Seu was absent due to a buck’s weekend.

But after a tempestuous couple of weeks with talk of internal problems plaguing Wests, Rosellas coach Craig Miller was ecstatic to secure the minor premiership.

Had Wests lost to Maitland, Souths would have claimed their first minor title since 1991, due to superior for and against after belting Kurri Kurri 62-10 on Saturday at Townson Oval.

‘‘There’s a lot of relief,’’ Miller said.

‘‘We spoke all week that we needed to get some hunger back in the squad and I think we did that.

‘‘We got back to the basics and completed very well and were pretty methodical.

‘‘We didn’t play our best football, but it’s heading in the right direction.’’

Wests badly need the week off as halfback Brad Murray left the field late in the second half with rib cartilage damage and prop Mark Taufua continues to struggle with knee tendonitis.

Maitland fought bravely in the first half under Wests’ weight of possession to keep their deficit to 14-0.

The Rosellas tries came from a chip and chase from Mannion, a dive over from dummy-half by hooker James Woolford and a classy sidestep and fend from Williams.

In the second half the errors climbed for the tiring Pickers.

Williams used a Matt Gidley-style flick past to send over Callan Richardson and then he scored his second try.

The Pickers’ only points came in thrilling fashion in the 65th minute.

Hooker Jarrod Smith popped an off-load to fullback Tyme Dow-Nikau who then linked with winger Ryan Lacy.

The try was merely a blip on the radar as Wests fullback Justin Smith iced a successful return from a month-long shoulder injury with a try and then a bullocking run by forward Jake Finn set up the final try for winger Ryan Lamb.

In his final game as Maitland captain-coach PJ Ellis praised the courage of his troops.

‘‘We turned them away on most occasions and I was happy with the effort,’’ Ellis said.

‘‘It was 14-0 at half-time and for the percentage of ball they had in the first half we were happy with how we handled ourselves.’’

Some Maitland officials were upset by Seu Seu’s absence, but Ellis was not angry at his marquee player.

‘‘We’ve all got families and other things away from football and football shouldn’t stop you from attending anything,’’ he said.

At St John Oval Central Newcastle wrapped up a home semi-final by beating Port Stephens 42-12.

It capped off qualification for Central in all three grades for the first time since 1987.

Due to the state of the main ground the match was moved to St John Oval’s training field.

Even without Brett Jarrett, Khaele Bowen and Noel Underwood, the Butcher Boys powered to a 20-0 half-time lead.

The second half was full of niggle, but halves Ryan Walker and Nathan Taylor steered the Butcher Boys to a comfortable win.

Teenage outside backs David Sheridan and Jake McNamara also made impressive first-grade debuts for Central.

The Butcher Boys will face a big challenge in the elimination semi-final against Cessnock, who continue build momentum when they defeated Macquarie 36-30 on Saturday.

The Scorpions led 12-0 early, but injuries to Black Gallen (arm) and Adam Swadling (quad) unsettled Macquarie.

With brothers Riley and Joel Brown in control the Goannas were the better side in the second half.

Macquarie will face Souths at Townson Oval in the qualifying semi-final next Sunday.

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