CESSNOCK coach Todd Edwards rated the Goannas’ 32-10 victory over Macquarie at Peacock Field yesterday as one of their best of the Newcastle Rugby League season.
The Goannas outscored the Scorpions six tries to two to secure their 14th win and stay four points clear of second-placed Western Suburbs with two rounds left before the semi-finals.
Unbeaten in Cessnock all season and facing home games on the next two Saturdays, against fourth-placed Maitland and sixth-placed South Newcastle, Edwards was not prepared to claim the minor premiership just yet but ‘‘I’d be disappointed if we dropped from here’’.
‘‘That was outstanding today. That was one of our best performances for the season,’’ Edwards said.
‘‘They’re a very aggressive side, and to be honest, my blokes bombed at least four, so that could have been a lot more.’’
Edwards switched Terence Seu Seu to halfback to replace Joel Brown, and Jake Watts started at hooker.
Centre Al Lantry, who scored Cessnock’s first try in the opening minutes, was replaced after suffering a knee injury.
That forced second-rower Daniel Metcalf to spend much of the game in the backline.
Trailing 12-4 after Moran’s sideline conversion attempt fell short, Macquarie fancied their chances of posting more points before the break but they fumbled Cessnock’s kick-off after Chandler’s try and Watts pounced to score, extending the visitors’ lead to 16-4 at half-time.
Despite the loss, coach Noel Dent was pleased with their effort.
‘‘I’m more encouraged than disappointed,’’ Dent said.
‘‘They’ve belted Kurri, they’ve belted Souths, and the second half could have got to anything but we only got beat 16-6 and we were held up over the line three times,’’
Wests led Central 18-0 but had to repel a late charge, sparked by former Rosella Adrian Davis and halves partner Albert Kelly, to win 18-12 at St John Oval yesterday.
The Rosellas moved two points clear of Macquarie into outright second, and they will finish the regular season with home games against Kurri and Port Stephens on the next two Sundays.
‘‘We dropped our intensity after we led 18-0 but Central were very committed on the back of ’AJ’ (Davis) and Albert,’’ Wests coach Craig Miller said.
The game between South Newcastle and Lakes United at Townson Oval yesterday was washed out and rescheduled to 8.30pm tomorrow at Townson.
Souths (15 points) must win, and their last two against Central (home) and Cessnock (away) and hope either Maitland or Kurri do not win again, to make the finals.
Maitland and Kurri moved five points clear of the Lions by registering lopsided wins on Saturday against Wyong and Port Stephens respectively.
The Pickers accounted for Wyong 34-12 at Maitland and Kurri shut out the Sharks 40-0 at Tomaree.