THE Maitland Pickers have traditionally set a goal of being the best team in the Coalfields at a bare minimum.
Luke Dorn’s outfit took another step towards that ambition with a hard-fought 22-16 triumph over the Goannas at Cessnock Sportsground on Saturday.
Maitland led 12-0 early and 12-4 at half-time. The Goannas got back within striking distance at 20-16 before a late Pickers penalty goal sealed the result.
The physical encounter could come at a cost.
Maitland prop Dane Tilse was sent off and his opposite Kurt Warden also finished the game on the sidelines after both were involved in a fight on full-time. Pickers interchange player Brenton Horwood was also binned.
The Goannas were reduced to 11 men midway through the second half after Paul Carter and Joe Woodbury were each given 10 minutes in quick succession.
Both coaches, Dorn and Cessnock’s Al Lantry, expect the errant players will pay the consequences.
“It ruined a good game of rugby league,” Lantry said. “It was very physical and there was a lot of good footy thrown in. For it to end like that, ruined it a little bit.”
Dorn said a couple of players from each “will possible miss some games”.
“The way the NSW Rugby League have been, any fighting is an automatic suspension,” Dorn said.
The Pickers’ win followed a 42-6 result over Kurri.
“We spoke about being the best team in the Coalfields,” Dorn said. “That was always a goal of the old Maitland teams. It is something that is important and we have put ourselves in a good position.”
Lantry said the loss was a “hard one to swallow”.
“I thought we were the better side, but to Maitland’s credit they hung on,” he said. “We missed three kicks at goal which would have made it 22-all. We have to make sure we stick with it now. I think one or two teams will get on a run and we want to be with them.”
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