With just one round left to play in the Newcastle Rugby League Blues Tag, the postseason pinch into the top five is set to come down to the final weekend after Kurri Kurri and Maitland both find themselves on 18 points after Round 15.
Souths delivered the Bulldogs their seventh loss of the season at the Kurri Kurri Sportsground, with Amy Waterhouse crossing twice and converting one of her own chances to top score for the Lionesses.
While Kurri were dropping to a loss at home, Maitland collected an all-important victory over Macquarie at Peacock Field. Amy Dufour and Kiara Nespeca starred with hat-tricks, and the Pickers fired their goal difference to +92.
With the Bulldogs sitting on +60, the Kurri club have been left adrift outside of the top five despite sharing the same points as Maitland. For the two finals hopefuls from the Coalfields, it all comes down to August 24.
Maitland are set to face fourth-placed Lakes next Saturday, while the Bulldogs travel north to the Salamander Sports Field to face seventh-placed Nelson Bay.
If Maitland can score a result, they all but confirm their place in the postseason. If they fall to the higher placed Seagulls, Kurri have a chance to leapfrog their Coalfields comrades and claim the final playoff spot on the last weekend.
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Elsewhere in Round 15, Souths’ 14-0 victory over Kurri also edged the Newcastle club ever-closer to the top spot. Central, who scored a 12-4 win over Lakes, hold the lead with 31 points thus far. The Lionesses are running just two behind on 29.
However, Central have the bye in the final round of the league. With a guaranteed two points in their pockets, the Butcher Birds will move straight to 33 points and clinch the minor premiership, as well as the first-week finals bye.
At Cessnock Sportsground, the Sharks notched a 14-10 victory over the Goannas. Isabella Garvie claimed a double for the home side. Both clubs have already been ruled out of finals contention for this year.
TABLE: Central (31), Souths (29), Wests, Lakes (24), Maitland, Kurri (18), Nelson Bay (14), Cessnock (8), Macquarie (4).