Two wins on the trot doesn’t make a winter, but the signs are there that the Central Charlestown Butcher Boys are on track for something special in 2018.
Touted as premiership favourites even before a ball was kicked in anger, the Central outfit struggled in the first two rounds before hitting their straps in round three against Maitland, and knocking off the unbeaten leaders Kurri Kurri 26-16 on Sunday.
In earlier games the Butcher Boys forwards made far too many errors, and as a consequence, their halves, in particular Brad Murray, were left posted. Not so on Sunday, as the big men powered over the advantage line in the first half with half-back Murray controlling the left side in attack, and hooker-cum-five-eight Terrence Seu Seu causing the Bulldogs plenty of headaches on the right side.
In the first forty minute period dominated by Central, Steve Gordon, Dom Murphy and Jarrod Nott all crossed for the home side with Murray landing three conversions and a penalty right on the break to virtually put the Bulldogs out of the game.
The visitors hit back early in the second half, with a strong wind at their backs, when full-back Kade Hardy scored between the uprights and converted.
Minutes later, Central’s replacement forward Tom Madden smashed his through several defenders to score wide out. Murray again converted for the Butcher Boys to lead 26-6.
With the game well and truly under wraps, the Butcher Boys fell back into their mistake ridden ways and allowed Bulldogs prop Brock Gilmour and second-rower Reid Alchin to grab late four pointers.
Experienced Kurri five-eight Grant Wooden plied all the tricks of his trade in a beaten side; kicking astutely and rallying his troops in an outstanding performance.
South Newcastle broke their duck for 2018 at Townson Oval on Sunday, coming up with a 26-12 victory over an inconsistent Western Suburbs outfit.
Lakes United got back into their winning way on Saturday when they travelled to Cessnock and downed the local boys 28-18.
Macquarie Scorpions, the reigning premiers, minus several stars on the injured list, stormed home late against Maitland Pickers, but eventually lost 34-20 at Lyle Peacock Oval.
NRL Ladder:: Maitland, Kurri, Macquarie 6; Central, Lakes 4; Wests, Souths, Cessnock 2.