Newcastle rugby: Hawks make it four straight, set sights on greatest of all time tag

PARTY TIME: Hamilton players celebrate at full-time of their 20-12 win over Maitland in the grand final at No.2 Sportsground on Saturday. It was the Hawks' fourth straight premiership. Pictures: Marina Neil
PARTY TIME: Hamilton players celebrate at full-time of their 20-12 win over Maitland in the grand final at No.2 Sportsground on Saturday. It was the Hawks' fourth straight premiership. Pictures: Marina Neil

HAMILTON want the five Olympic rings. What’s more, the Hawks have an exciting wave of new talent to help drive them forward.

No team in the modern era (since 1945) has ever won five Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union premierships in a row.

ON THE CHARGE: Hamilton centre Kirisome Laulala brushes off a tackle.

ON THE CHARGE: Hamilton centre Kirisome Laulala brushes off a tackle.

The Hawks claimed their fourth straight – equalling the feats of a Cyril Burke-led Waratahs from 1950-53 – with a gritty 20-12 win over Maitland at No.2 Sportsground on Saturday.

“To win four in a row is a massive achievement,” coach Scott Coleman said. “The boys have tossed up that they want the Olympic rings. Five rings.

DEVASTATED: Breakaway Nick Davidson was one of the Blacks' best in the loss.

DEVASTATED: Breakaway Nick Davidson was one of the Blacks' best in the loss.

“Everyone will be back on deck. Why would you want to give this up. We have a really good breed of kids coming through as well. We had 12 debutants this year: Zach Crowley, Caleb Hopping, Jack Allen, Jacob Rabai … there is too many to name. We have some really good kids coming through.”

Saturday’s victory was different to past triumphs, more a sense of relief.

None more relieved than Coleman.

“Good sides win ugly,” he said. “This year is definitely a different feel. The last two days, the pressure has been immense. With all three grades being in the grand final, we just wanted to get the job done.”

The pressure, perhaps, was born from the fact Coleman answered an SOS mid season after the club parted ways with David Clarke. Coleman had handed over the reins at the end of 2017 to build a family home.

“I knew when I took the job on that the ingredients were there,” he said. “I would have been disappointed if this didn’t happen. Full credit to the boys. Their attitude to training changed. I demanded a bit more and they delivered.

“I will have a chat to my wife, but I’m definitely keen to keep going. The house should be built by Christmas. Hopefully, these boys might be able to help me when they stop celebrating.”

A crowd of more than 5000, the biggest in a decade, packed No.2 Sportsground. At least two-thirds were wearing Black.

The Hawks went ahead 7-0 after six minutes when fly-half Dane Sherratt swooped on a loose Maitland pass and ran 30 metres to score.

It was that sort of day for the Blacks. They were gallant, especially in defence, but dropped too much ball.

Still, they stayed in the fight.

Blacks half Max Stafford crossed from a five-metre scrum before a Sherratt field goal made it 10-5 to the Hawks at half-time.

“We were in front at half-time but didn’t deserve to be,” Coleman said. “Credit to Maitland they put us under a lot of pressure. We had 13 turnovers in the first half.”

The Hawks flicked the switch after the break.

They controlled possession, cut down the errors and gained ascendancy at the scrum. It was the relentless rugby which has been the hallmark of their success.

“We could have really drove it home but a win is a win,” Coleman said.