“Wests first, daylight second.”
That was the frank assessment of Maitland Pickers coach Trevor Ott on Sunday after being on the receiving end of a 52-0 flogging from Western Suburbs at mud-ridden Harker Oval.
At the halfway point of the Newcastle Rugby League season Ott has installed the Rosellas, who have dropped just one game this year and lead by four points on top of the ladder, as clear premiership favourites.
“As far as the competition’s concerned, that’s where it is,” Ott said.
“They are the best team we’ve played by far and no excuses, we’re just not in the same league.”
The Pickers, without star prop Dane Tilse (hamstring), failed to gain any traction against an in-form side that dominated proceedings all over the sopping wet paddock.
Despite the adverse conditions, for 80 minutes Wests produced set plays, flick passes, chip kicks, high completions and limited errors.
The performance came much to the delight of coach Matt Lantry, who believes the Rosellas showed glimpses of their “relentless” best and improved upon their opening seven rounds.
“Up until today I wasn’t overly happy with where we were at,” Lantry said.
“We were winning games but we were falling in and out of moments within the game.
“We would put together a good 20 or 30 minute period but then would fall apart for 10 and allow teams back in.
“Today we were quite relentless for 80 minutes and if we can springboard off the back of that and go to another level that’s what we’re aiming for.”
Lantry said his squad, who crossed for five tries in the opening half an hour and scored another six after the break, were buoyed by the victory as they strive to reclaim a title they last won in 2014.
“We take plenty out of that,” Lantry said.
“The way we handled the conditions was outstanding. We made four errors in the first half and three in the second for an 80 per cent completion rate in the game.
“You can struggle to get that in dry weather footy. Our attention to detail and our process, all the things that we’re after we were really clinical in.”
And the showing in attack, defence and mental approach was accurately reflected on the scoreboard with the hosts cracking the half-century after full-time and managing to keep the visitors scoreless.
“Whilst we scored 52 points, the attitude and the defensive effort was the most pleasing thing,” Lantry said.
“Zero points was excellent, but the way we approached both defending our goal line and putting the Maitland attack under pressure was really good.”
Doubles to fullback Brad Tighe, winger Mao Uta and five-eighth Ryan Walker in round eight have helped Wests to an overall points differential of 184 with league best for (276) and against (92) records.
At the other end of the scale Maitland, who were beaten 38-12 by Wests at the same venue a fortnight ago, sit alongside Kurri Kurri on the table with two wins apiece but slip to last based on inferior points differential (-71), which features conceding 233.
Elsewhere on Sunday afternoon and conditions were even worse at Townson Oval where South Newcastle edged out Cessnock 16-10. James Livock crashed over midway through the second half to help seal back-to-back wins for the sixth-placed Lions.
LADDER: Wests 14, Macquarie, Central 10, Lakes 8, Cessnock, Souths 6, Kurri, Maitland 4.