The Pickers have enjoyed an undefeated start to their 2020 NRL campaign. Image via Photography by Amanda.

Maitland coach Tony Howard says he would have taken three-from-three at the start of the Newcastle Rugby League season regardless, but to have the Pickers’ last two victories be against 2019 heavyweights Central and Lakes makes it “all the sweeter.”

Amy Dufour and Brittany Morrison both crossed for the Pickers in the 18-point win. Brooke Carroll took the cake for Saturday’s try of the day, however, cutting through Lakes’ defensive line and running 50 meters to score her four-pointer.

Breanna Lacy kicked all three conversion chances for the Pickers at Cahill Oval. The visitors came close, but failed to score in the third-round match.

The win fires Maitland into the equal top-spot alongside Souths, and only behind on +94 vs +54 points difference. It’s a “big win” for the Pickers to make it three-in-three, Howard admitted, especially with the bye coming up in Round 4.

“We’ve beaten Central and Lakes, who were two of the top teams from last year, so that does give us a fair bit of confidence,” Howard said to the Chronicle. “These have been some exciting weeks for the girls, but we have to make it count now by keeping on.”

Maitland kept Lakes scoreless at home on Saturday morning. Image via Photography by Amanda.

“It was a really tight game, but it was nice and dry at home and it gave us a good track to play on. We’ve been focusing on our defence a lot and so while the 18 points were good, the fact the girls kept them to zero was fantastic too,” he said.

Maitland will have another chance to test their defence when they welcome Wests to their oval in Round 5. It’s a little ways off yet, and the southern squad have a bye between now and then, but it’s well and truly on Howard’s radar.

“You always want to play the best sides, and perform well, and I think between the start that we’ve had, the break, and the fact that the girls are impressing each and every game, we’re in a good spot at the moment,” he said.

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“Performance is everything for us. I’ll be disappointed if we start to drop after three on the trot right off the bat, but that’s the job of me and Logan [Redman, Maitland’s new co-coach for the 2020 season]. It feels like we have control of it all right now though.

“Honestly, we’re looking forward to pushing on. I want to beat, and I know Logan and the girls want to beat, all the best teams in the competition. We’re flying with belief right now, so we’ll see how we go; so far everyone is pretty happy.”

NRL heavyweights Wests now loom as the next challenge for the undefeated Pickers. Image via Trish Evenden.

Round 3 in the NRL Blues Tag also marked debutants Wyong Roos’ first outing in the Hunter competition. The Central Coast outfit was welcomed with a 12–0 loss at the hands of 2019 grand finalists Souths at Morry Breen Oval.

Jordan Glanville scored one of the two tries for the Lionesses in the win, while Amy Waterhouse slotted both conversion chances.

Also in the third round, Wests got back on the road after their Round 2 forfeit match with a 52–point win over Cessnock. Nelson Bay also chalked their first win of the year with a 20–14 triumph over Kurri Kurri, after they had a break on the bye last round.

STANDINGS: Souths, Maitland (6), Wests, Central, Wyong, Nelson Bay (4), Lakes (2), Kurri Kurri, Cessnock (0).