COMPETITION heavyweights Hamilton and Wanderers recorded convincing wins as Merewether and the Waratahs stepped up their push for the top five in a drama-charged round 14 of the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union.
Merewether warhorse Adam Nolan marked his 100th first grade game with a win as the Greens stormed past Nelson Bay 50-17 at Townson Oval.
At Waratahs Oval, the Tahs came from 31-23 down in the second half to pip Southern Beaches 33-31. The match was held up for 20 minutes midway through the second half after Beaches replacement halfback Hughes Jones dislocated his knee.
After the restart, Tahs super boot Dane Sherratt landed a penalty to close the gap to 31-26. Then with five minutes remaining, Andy Finau crossed in the corner and Sherratt landed the sideline conversion to put the home side in front 33-31.
Beaches were camped on the Tahs’ line in the final moments but couldn’t come up with a match-winner.
Wanderers were too slick for Lake Macquarie, who played most of the second half with 14 men after Willie Fraser received a second yellow card, in a 64-12 thrashing at No.2 Sportsground.
Winger Nick Cook scored a hat-trick and Dillon Rowney crossed for a double for the Two Blues.
“Dillon was awesome,” Wanderers coach Viv Paasi said. “We had Billy Coffey at 12 for the first time and Nick Cook, who was playing his second first grade game, on the wing so Dillon had to control our backs. Our midfield was great and gave us a look at what we have got if injuries strike or whatever.”
The Two Blues set the game up in the first half, leading 26-12 at the break.
“We had to work pretty hard,” Paasi said. “Lake Macquarie defended well, especially in the backs. The scoreline wasn’t a true reflection of the game. We got a couple of lucky tries and had to work hard for a couple.”
Hamilton scored 26 points in each half to shut out University 52-0 at Passmore Oval.
Maitland piled on 33 points in the second half to overpower Singleton 45-15 at Rugby Park and retain the Gresham-Sarroff Shield.
POINTSCORE: Hamilton 67, Wanderers 63, Beaches 49, Maitland 40, Lake Macquarie 35, Merewether 33, Tahs 30, Nelson Bay 28, University 22, Singleton 0.
Hamilton Hawks 52 (Seva Rokobaro 2, Soni Halanukonuka 2, Steve Sione, Liam Walker, Paddy Kilmurray, Sam McNeil tries, Soni Halanukonuka 6 con) def University of Newcastle 0
Wanderers 64 (Nick Cook 3, Dillon Rowney 2, Dave Waller, George Ashworth, Bill Coffey, Josh McCormack, Dylan Mancinelli tries, Luke Simmons 7 con) def Lake Macquarie 12 (tries Clay Tapara, Jack Ogilvy tries, Brendan Holliday con)
The Waratahs 33 (tries Andrew Finau, Sione Olive, Carl Manu tries, Dane Sherratt 3 con, Dane Sherratt 4 pen) def Southern Beaches 31 (Tim Poese, Tyler Ostle, Iopa Mika, Sam Moss, Adrian Delore tries, Michael Delore 3 con)
Merewether Carlton 50 (Sam Dart, Josh Stewart, Jarome Wilson, Tom Smith, Ed Bacigalupo, Corey Nash, Jay Strachan tries, Ed Bacigalupo 6 con, Ed Bacigalupo 1 pen) def Nelson Bay 17 (Bryan Macnaughton, Erasmus Van Zyl, Todd Arnold tries, Jack Arthur con)
Singleton 15 (Brady Hay, Dom Keys tries, Harerangi Meihana con and pen) def by Maitland 40 (Chris Martin 2, Sapati Peniata, John Birrell, Max Stafford, Chris Logan tries, Jono Maloney 4 con, Pat Batey con)