Kurri Kurri have moved right back into the race for finals with a historic win over Wests on Saturday morning in the Blues Tag’s fourteenth round.
The four-point win marks the first time a Coalfields side has defeated the inner-city top three, and it’s one Adam Martin says his side will savour “for a long, long time.”
It’s been a rollercoaster of a season for the Bulldogs, who bookended losses to Lakes and Maitland with tight draws against title contenders Central and Souths. This time, the Bulldogs weren’t to be denied at Kurri Kurri Sportsground.
The victory took two comebacks, however, as Wests opened the scoring Rhianni Cipta crashed over the left flank to chalk first points for the Rosellas. Bulldogs fullback Emma Martin struck minutes later to level the scores.
Olivia Warren was the next to score a leveller for Kurri, after Kristy Houghton sent the Rosellas in down the right with a long-ranged kick that put Seiannah Olsen into space past the Bulldogs’ defence.
Martin edged Kurri into the lead for the first time in the 30th minute.
“This win felt pretty special for us, considering how long it’s been since one of the Coalfields sides managed it,” Bulldogs coach Adam Martin said.
“There’s a clear top four teams that are pretty dominant in Central, Wests, Souths, and Lakes, and three of those four are the central Newcastle teams. It feels great to break that voodoo that we’ve had against those three, that’s for sure.”
After Kurri slipped to a 14-4 loss against the Pickers in July, Martin said the team too a “hit to the confidence” in regards to qualifying for the Blues Tag postseason. With the historic upset over the Rosellas, the confidence has poured back in.
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“A win against Maitland would have all but guaranteed us finals, but we lost that and that meant we were in a position where we had to break that inner-city hoodoo with a big upset. To get that shows we can match it with these big teams,” Martin said.
“From here everything is possible, our problem has just been that we’ve played well against the top teams and then dropped points to the teams below us. It feels like we may have turned a corner in that regard now, and we want to keep that pressure up.”
The Bulldogs-Rosellas battle also made history for a less positive reason, as Wests player Kristy Houghton became the first player to be sent off in a Blues Tag match.
Houghton will face the judiciary this week, with the Wests playmaker facing a potential month or longer on the sideline if she’s found guilty of the charge.
Elsewhere, Souths edged closer to the league leaders with a major win over Cessnock.
The Butcher Birds notched an 18-0 win over the Pickers this round, but a defeat to the Lionesses in their mid-week catchup game on July 30 has narrowed the gap.
Also last weekend, Lakes defeated Nelson Bay 24-nil at Cahill Oval. Tempe Oke opened the scoring for the Seagulls, while Rhian Ostle crossed twice.
STANDINGS: Central (29), Souths (25), Wests, Lakes (22), Kurri (18), Maitland (16), Nelson Bay (12), Cessnock (8), Macquarie (4).