YOU could almost hear the collective sigh of relief around Cahill Oval yesterday as Lakes United broke their duck in the Newcastle Rugby League by beating Macquarie 24-14.
The weight of expectation brought about by a big off-season recruitment drive and quality trial form was beginning to mount on the Seagulls after four losses to begin the season.
The previously undefeated Scorpions looked like extending that sequence to five when they took a 14-10 lead with 15 minutes remaining.
But Lakes scored a minute later when second-rower Kye Howarth sped down the sideline and put winger Jason Hood in for a try.
A penalty piggy-backed the Seagulls down field and they took the opportunity to close out the game with a soft try to Dane Cordner.
‘‘It has taken a lot of pressure off,’’ Lakes captain-coach Matt Bartlett said.
‘‘There are times in every game that we’ve competed and we’ve made life difficult on ourselves with our completions.
‘‘There were good signs today, but we gave ourselves every right to lose it.’’
Lakes lost Bartlett at half-time to an ankle injury and centre Josh Charles hit the goalpost attempting to save a try midway through the second half and limped off.
Outside backs Anthony Perkins (Lakes) and Royce Geoffrey (Macquarie) were sent to the sin-bin for 10minutes after a fight erupted in the fourth minute.
Helped by a lopsided penalty count, Lakes constantly attacked the Scorpions’ line and it was returning fullback Nathan Ross, whose clearance from French rugby league came through on Friday night, who delivered the first blow when he grubbered for Charles.
Rival fullback Nathan Cantor provided the spark for Macquarie when they evened the ledger at 4-all through a try to hooker Jye Bailey.
Macquarie then turned over possession off the restart with a forward pass and Lakes made them pay when Hood scored off a floating pass from five-eighth Daniel Janissen.
That gave Lakes a 10-4 half-time lead.
Scorpions halfback Mick Moran shone early in the second half by setting up tries for winger Chad Chandler and second-rower Adam Swalding and suddenly the visitors were leading 14-10.
But errors and penalties brought the Seagulls back into the game.
Macquarie coach Noel Dent left the ground without speaking to his players.
Captain Blake Gallen was equally annoyed by the performance.
‘‘We did a lot of defending in the first half and it came back to hurt us,’’ Gallen said.
‘‘There’s a lot of disappointed boys in there.’’
One captain-coach ecstatic with his team was Kurri Kurri’s George Ndaira.
The Bulldogs fought back from 22-16 down with 12 men against Wyong at Morry Breen Oval on Saturday evening to win 28-22. Fiery prop Mick Campton was sent off with 30 minutes remaining for a high tackle.
The win keeps the Bulldogs’ perfect record intact and leaves the Roos with two points from five rounds.
Also on Saturday, South Newcastle humiliated Port Stephens Sharks 74-6 at Townson Oval and Maitland easily beat Central Newcastle 40-12 at Maitland Sportsground.
The Sharks, who already have special dispensation allowing them not to field a third-grade side, forfeited reserves.
On Friday night the Cessnock juggernaut rolled on as they beat Western Suburbs 22-8 at Cessnock Sportsground.