Souths have reminded the rest of the league that the Lionesses are waiting in the wings to make a bid for the NRL Blues Tag top spots with a 42-nil victory over Cessnock at the league-wide gala day at Cahill Oval on Sunday morning.
Since losing to Wests and Central in the opening four weeks of the competition, Souths have been on a three-game winning streak. The most recent win over the Goannas has kept them six points off league leaders Central, and just two off second place.
It’s not just the surging form last season’s runners-up should be happy about, head coach Craig Higgins said of the performances however. Having now strung four strong performances together in a row, the Lionesses are looking right on track.
“I said to the girls after the win, it’s not just about getting the points, it’s about the way that you win as well, and definitely this week they can be very happy with the way that they put the win together. They were great in attack and defence,” Higgins said.
Souths centre Madeline Scullion shone against the Goannas, chalking up a hat-trick as she looked to stamp her authority on the starting lineup. Only Amy Waterhouse, who slotted four goals for eight points, and Sarah Mulholand with six points off a try and a goal, outscored the dominant back.
After a withdrawal gave Scullion a start instead of playing from the pine, Higgins realises she may be undroppable following her twelve-point performance: “Maddy’s showed us what she can do, and has made it hard for us to put her back.”
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All in all, Souths put the afterburners on against Cessnock in Belmont on the weekend, after getting out onto the paddock for the first since mid-June. Like many teams, the Lionesses have been locked away from their fields by wet weather.
“We haven’t even been able to train in the past two weeks because of the weather. Maybe if we lay off the training all together we might go even better,” Higgins laughed.
The wet weather may have coughed up an interesting prospect for the South Newcastle squad. With games in hand against the top two, the Lionesses could potentially “crack open” the race for top-seed finals spots.
“We were beaten by just a try against them last time we played them (8-4 vs Central, 6-0 vs Wests) so I think next time we meet them it will be very interesting,” the Lionesses helsman said. “If we get wins there it throws the whole league open.
“There’s hardly anything between the top four sides, and on any given day anyone can win to be honest. Central may be tough to catch because they’ve already won eight straight, so the wheels would have to fall off there, but overall it’s a very close year.”
One of Souths’ catch-up games has been confirmed for Sunday, August 11 in the wet-weather round. The other has yet to be confirmed, though it’s likely the rescheduled meeting will be played mid-week due to limited free weekends.
Earlier at Cahill Oval, a double from Tegan Glover helped Central stay undefeated with a 12-nil victory over the Sharks. Blanche Morrissey converted both attempts.
Also at the gala day, Rebecca Tattoli scored four as Lakes charged to a major win over Macquarie. She wasn’t the only multi-tryscorer. Niesa Case claimed a hat-trick, while Tianna Cummings crossed twice in the 82-point win.
Finally, Wests held off a strong Maitland outfit with a 24-6 win. Seinnah Olsen stared for the Rosellas, scoring three of the team’s five. Kurri had the gala day bye.
STANDINGS: Central (20), Wests (16), Lakes, Souths, Kurri (14), Maitland (12), Nelson Bay (8), Macquarie (4), Cessnock (2).