HAMILTON are one win away from a piece of Newcastle sporting history.
The Hawks overpowered Wanderers 34-19 in the major semi-final at No.2 Sportsground on Saturday to book a place in the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union grand final and a shot at a record fifth straight premiership.
A Cyril Burke led Waratahs won four straight premierships from 1950-53.
Singleton and University have each won three straight, but no club in the history of the competition has won five.
The high-action contest on Saturday between the two top teams wasn't without drama.
Wanderers captain Ben Ham was sent off in the 79th minute after receiving a second yellow card for a tackle on Hamilton winger Hamish McKie.
Wanderers, after trailing 24-7, had cut the margin to 27-19 when Ham was sent.
From a lineout, McKie came from the blindside to hit the ball up on the outside of centre Angus Brown. He was met front-on by Ham, who caught the winger in the ribs. However, the far touch judge Nick Gaal ruled on report that Ham had not used his arms in the tackle and referee Jarryd Logan produced a second yellow card. The decision appeared harsh at best.
Ham's hopes of playing in the preliminary final against the winner of Sunday's minor semi-final between Maitland and Merewether rests with the judiciary on Wednesday.
Logan issued five yellow cards in total - three to Wanderers and two to Hamilton.
The Hawks, despite not having played in three weeks, asserted their authority early.
Powered by a dominant scrum and a 12-2 penalty count, many of which came at the set piece, they went to the break in control up 24-7.
Peter Maxwell opened the Hawks account in the third minute from close range three phases after the Hamilton had won their first tight-head.
McKie and Angus Brown, who was outstanding at inside centre, crossed as the lead ballooned to 19-0.
Wanderers, who knocked on two kick-offs and turned over cheap possession, hit back in the 30th minute on their first venture into the Hawks' 22m when prop Alex Reid burrowed over.
The respite was short-lived. Again from a Wanderers mistake, Steve Lamont went over down the short side. Dane Sherratt converted for 24-7.
The Two Blues finished the half with 13 men after Ham was sent to the bin for charging into a ruck with his shoulder and Reid followed for repeated indiscretions at the scrum.
Wanderers coach Dan Beckett delivered a half-time spray to his troops and they responded.
Centre Nimi Qio scored a solo effort down the short side, powering over three would-be tacklers. Luke Simmons added the extras to give them a sniff at 24-14.
After Wanderers returned to their full compliment, Hamilton had fullback Zac Crowley (professional foul) and Tiueti Asi (foul play) given yellow cards simultaneously.
Five minutes later, Luke Sherwood delivered a beautiful flat pass to Chase Hicks, who linked with Luke Simmons and the fullback then sent George Ashworth over in the left corner for 24-19. Game on.
Sherratt added a penalty to give the Hawks some breathing space.
Wanderers had a try disallowed for a knock-on after Ashworth had won the race to a Simmons kick into the corner.
Then the Hawks' scrum kicked up a gear again.
Any chance of a Wanderers revival ended when Ham was sent.
A minute later replacement, Bryce Madden touched down beside the posts to seal the win and direct passage to the decider.
Apart from Brown, Scottish import Jason Hill, Maxwell and Pete Bakarich led the way for the Hawks.