ELUSIVE: Pickers stand-in halfback Darcy Etrich has the Sharks defence scrambling.Newcastle Representative lock Billy Towers claimed four tries as the Maitland Pickers overcame a resilient Port Stephens Sharks 36-22 at the Maitland Sportsground on Saturday.
Nanjing Night Net

Maitland had trailed 14-4 early in the first half before going on to claim the 14 point victory, which sees them strengthen their position in the top five.

Pickers coach Ron Griffiths acknowledged there was plenty for the reigning premiers to do before they would be back to their best, but was happy with the vital two points.

“We got the result in the end, they [Port Stephens] certainly turned up to play even though I suppose they’re in a bit of disarray with only one side playing yesterday, but it was still a good challenge,” Griffiths said.

“Don’t get me wrong, there are still things we have to improve but I knew it was going to be tough, Port Stephens won’t want to finish the season without a win.

“Sometimes players can look at the form or the table and get a bit complacent but we got the job done and we can move on to next week now.”

Griffiths was glowing in his praise of Towers and halfback Darcy Etrich who has been outstanding in Jade Porter’s absence through NSW Country representative duty.

“Darcy was great yesterday and he has been excellent for us of late,” Griffiths said.

“Billy scored four tries for us and everything he touches can turn to gold, we’re probably guilty of using him too much because he can do too much work, sometimes we need to save him for when we’re under the pump.”

With Porter to come back into the team and a couple of wins on the trot, Maitland are gearing up for the run home and the chance for a historic premiership three-peat.

But Griffiths says the playing group isn’t getting ahead of itself.

“I suppose as long as we keep winning we can apply pressure to the other sides around us because we are the reigning premiers,” Griffiths said.

“But we’re still off the pace a bit and it’s something the playing group has to fix first.”

Maitland Pickers 36 (Tries – B Towers 4, J Osborn 2, W Faulkner 2. Goals – J Morrison 2) defeated Port Stephens Sharks 22 (Tries – T Solbrandt 2, D Smith, D Holt. Goals – R Cutbush 3)

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