Ryan Glanville and Lachlan Walmsley combined to produce a Newcastle Rugby League masterclass on Sunday as Souths moved within one win of the club’s second grand final appearance in three seasons.
The five-eighth and fullback, like most in the young Lions squad weren’t part of the 2016 premiership, teamed up on three occasions to score tries from short kicks as part of the visitors’ 46-12 victory against Central at St John Oval.
Two of those came in quick succession with Walmsley crossing in the 19th and 21st minutes, first from a chip and the second from a grubber, to put Souths ahead before Glanville dribbled through for himself for an 18-4 lead in the 25th minute.
It was a definitive six-minute period and later the same pair put icing on the cake with the Lions’ seventh and final four pointer, arguably their best, with four minutes left on the clock.
Walsmley’s hat-trick means he has now scored in nine straight matches. The 20-year-old custodian has 20 tries in 2018, featuring 18 in the most recent period since July 1.
“They’ve got a good little combination going there,” Souths coach Ben Cross said.
“It’s not by accident, they practice it at training and that’s why it comes off in a game.”
Souths travel to Cahill Oval this Sunday to meet minor premiers Lakes in the major semi-final with Cross hopeful he will have the services of winger Harry Van Dartel, who left the field with a nose injury late in the game following a tackle by Central centre Steve Gordon.
“I don’t know whether that was put on report or not, if it wasn’t I’ll probably be looking at it,” Cross said.
“He [Van Dartel] is in a bit of a bad way with his nose, but hopefully he will be right for next week.”
Lions prop Luke Higgins (cork) was the other minor concern.
Central halfback Brad Murray failed to finish the game and spent the second half icing his hamstring on the bench. The hosts trailed 24-4 at the main break.
The Butcher Boys playmaker indicated after full-time that he’d be right to play against the in-form Bulldogs at Kurri Sportsground in Saturday’s minor semi-final.
Marcel Ikinofo opened Central’s account with a try in the fourth minute while skipper Ethan Cook and Dom Murphy crossed in the 44th and 57th minutes.
Tom Cronan nabbed a double for Souths. Jason Keelan kicked nine goals from as many attempts, including two penalties.
FIXTURES: Kurri v Central at Kurri on Saturday (minor semi-final); Lakes v Souths at Cahill Oval on Sunday (major semi-final).
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