Maitland held firm at No.2 Sportsground to deliver one of the biggest upsets of the season. Image via Stewart Hazell.

Maitland may still be pinching themselves after their second-half effort earned them a place in the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Women’s grand final this Saturday afternoon. Hamilton, who let a 12-0 lead slip away, will be kicking themselves.

Hawks flyer Leilani Nathan opened the scoring for the second-seed club, breaking away down the left flank to collect the first five points of the clash.

Tamara Clay was the next to strike, plowing through the Blacks’ defence in the 24th minute to double her team’s lead. Candice Clay added two extra points with her kick in the first half, giving the Hawks a strong twelve-point advantage.

In the end, that advantage just wasn’t enough to stop the determined Blacks.

A rapid-fire passing movement down the left side in the 56th minute cracked open Hamilton’s defence, with Joyce Chan streaming through to put Maitland on the board for the first time in the preliminary final.

Read more recent news

Then Jorja Holden had her say, putting on the after-burners as she hit the Hawks’ line in the 61st minute to leave a host of Hamilton defenders in the dust as she stormed over the line and levelled up proceedings.

With both kicks converted for the Blacks, their 14-12 lead was enough to earn them the victory in the season’s penultimate battle, and end Hamilton’s campaign.

Maitland now faces the ‘final boss’ the Waratahs on Saturday afternoon, as the defending champions prepare for their second straight grand final.

With the return of the women’s competition last year, the Tahs stamped their authority as one of the best teams in the region. The club clinched their 2018 title with a 69-5 shellacking of the Wanderers, and are looking to go back-to-back.

Both team lists have been announced for the league’s final clash:

Kick-off for the decider has been penned in for 4.55pm at Newcastle’s No.2 Sportsground, and is to be played after the men’s premier division preliminary finals.