A COUPLE of strong back-to-back performances have propelled the Muswellbrook Heelers into top spot in the Newcastle Hunter Rugby Union competition.
The local outfit claimed the honours from Cooks Hill 1 at Highbrook Park on Saturday.
After leading 17-5 at the break, the Heelers went on with the job in the second half to prevail 24-10.
Coach Michael Hall would have been happy with the side’s resolute defence – against a team pushing for a play-off berth.
The victory lifted Muswellbrook to 47 points in the President’s Cup, level with Southern Lakes, who enjoyed a weekend bye.
Easts 1 occupies third position on 45.
“It was an important game in the scheme of things – second versus third on the ladder,” Heelers president Greg Buckley said.
“Plus, Cooks Hill 1 have won the past two grand finals and it has been some time since Muswellbrook have beaten them.
“But, the determined Heelers side is undefeated at home in 2017.
“So, we wanted to ensure Highbrook Park became our fortress.”
Tries to Harry Hobden and Jed Hardy, with Cameron Young converting both as well as a penalty goal, gave Muswellbrook a 17-5 advantage at half-time.
The team was well lead up front by Hobden and Ben Heriot, ensuring plenty of metres were made.
The halves pairing of Cameron Huggins and Young also gave the backline plenty of good ball.
Josia Besetimoala, at No 8, controlled it at the back of a dominant scrum.
A well-executed pick up enabled a flying Young to score under the posts.
He added the extras to secure the 24-10 victory.
The coach’s three points went to Jaryd Buckley and Players’ Player was Patrick Scott-Irvine.
Heriot and Hardy collected points from the referee.
“The win now puts us in equal first place with Southern Lakes,” Buckley said.
“However, there is still much to do.
“Our next game is away against Easts 1 at Dangar Park.
“They currently sit two points behind us, so a victory for the Heelers will go a long way to securing a top two berth.
“Muswellbrook then has a bye before finishing the home and away season against Pokolbin at Highbrook Park on Saturday, August 26.”
Round 15 results:
Cessnock def Pokolbin 23-20
Muswellbrook def Cooks Hill 1 24-10
Easts 2 def Cooks Hill 2 28-0
Easts 1 def Griffins 27-5
President’s Cup top five: Southern Lakes 47, Muswellbrook 47, Easts 1 45, Cooks Hill 1 44, Easts 2 33