Central Newcastle over-came an emotional few days for the club and a 16-point first half deficit to finish over the top of Cessnock in their top-of-table Newcastle Rugby League clash at St John Oval yesterday.
Central scored 24 unanswered second half points for a 32-18 victory to hand Cessnock a second straight defeat.
The Butcher Boys recovered from an 18-2 deficit just prior to halftime with fullback Cameron Anderson scoring a converted try a minute before the break and another in the second half in his side's five tries to three win.
Hooker Jack Kelly bravely played against the Goannas despite the death of his mother on Friday while the father of Michael West, a member of the club's coaching staff, also passed away on the same day.
"It's been an emotional week for us losing Jack's mum and Michael's dad on Friday and then on Saturday, we took a bus up to Old Bar for a memorial day for Joel Dark [former player]," coach Phil Williams said.
"Jack wanted to play which just shows the mental strength of the guy. Unfortunately, he was injured in the second half and didn't finish the game but I was happy with the way we responded to what happened in the first half.
"Our first 40 wasn't up to standard but then Walshy [halfback Luke Walsh] took a bit more control and we fixed our discipline. I think these boys are starting to believe in themselves a bit more too."
Also yesterday, Macquarie survived a real scare leading 24-22 with 12 minutes left before securing a 36-22 win over a much improved Lakes United while South Newcastle edged out Wests 18-16 for their first win of the season.
Macquarie coach Steve Kidd praised the winless Lakes after his side needed two late converted tries to wrap up their win at Cahill Oval.
"They out-enthused us and showed a lot of improvement with some new players including Joel Edwards who was pretty good for them but we got away with it," Kidd said.
"They'll beat some sides in the second half of the season I reckon."
Kidd praised the performances of his halves but it was a crucial 40/20 from fullback Kerrod Holland late in the contest that proved pivotal with the Scorpions scoring soon after to take the game out of Lakes' reach.
Wests coach Todd Lowrie lamented his side's poor finish after they gave up a 16-6 lead late in the game to the Lions. The loss keeps the Rosellas winless after six rounds with a game in hand.
"We were in control for most of the game and just needed a few guys to stand up towards the back end but it wasn't to be," Lowrie said.
On Saturday, Maitland flexed their premiership muscle in the second half to thrash The Entrance 42-12 while a disappointing Kurri was handed a 36-4 thrashing by Wyong at Kurri.
Maitland trailed 12-6 early against the Tigers and it was 12-all at halftime but the Pickers crossed for four tries during a 14-minute scoring spree in the second half to run away with the game.
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