The equation is becoming simpler each week for the Maitland Pickers in their quest for a historic three-peat – keep winning.
Maitland bounced back from their defeat at home against Kurri Kurri with a committed 38-18 win over Central Newcastle last Sunday for the reigning premiers to sit in fifth place on the Newcastle Rugby League competition table.
Maitland are on 14 points, two behind fourth-placed Kurri, although the Pickers still have a game in hand against Macquarie from round three and with their superior for and against could jump the Bulldogs into fourth.
The Pickers’ run home begins with three consecutive home matches at the Maitland Sportsground starting this weekend against the struggling Port Stephens Sharks, followed by South Newcastle and then Wyong.
Maitland’s season ends with two away fixtures, with a grudge match against Cessnock followed by a tricky trip to Cahill Oval to take on Lakes United.
Hooker PJ Ellis returns on Saturday against the Sharks after being ineligible against Central Newcastle due to the terms of his release, while Damien Frize (work) and lock Billy Towers (injury) are also back.
Jade Porter (NSW Country), Marco Delapena and Ryan Walker (injury) remain unavailable.
Port Stephens are rock bottom and without a win in 2012 but Maitland coach Ron Griffiths said his team won’t be taking the Sharks lightly.
“There’s not much difference between first and last on the table at the moment, probably depth across the park is the only obvious thing, but on their day they could beat anyone,” Griffiths said.
“The moment you take someone lightly in this competition you get beat and going into the semi-finals you don’t want to be winning one week and losing the next.
“We want six or seven wins to build that momentum, hopefully if we do make the semis it’ll be the catalyst for a successful period.”
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