THE Muswellbrook Heelers wrapped up the Newcastle Hunter Rugby Union preliminary rounds with an impressive 41-7 victory over the Pokolbin Reds at Highbrook Park last Saturday.
The match also doubled as the last game of the home and away series – and commemorated the club’s inaugural Family Day.
Muswellbrook now tackles Easts 1 when the play-offs begin this weekend.
“It was a great day and a large crowd turned out to cheer on the boys,” Heelers president Greg Buckley said.
“Pokolbin travelled up to Highbrook Park knowing it was going to be a tough battle to spoil our Family Day.
“In our previous meeting, back in July, the Reds outplayed us to record an upset 10-7 win, so the guys were determined to keep our unbeaten record at home in 2017 – and ensure we head into the final series with a triumph.
“In a commanding display, the Heelers ran out winners 41-7, scoring seven tries.
“It ensures we go into Saturday’s showdown with momentum.”
The star of the day was Ethan Cridland, who scored a hat-trick of tries.
Mitchell Googe, Paul McNeil, Ben Heriot and Ernie Allen also posted five-pointers.
The treble by Cridland guaranteed he took out top tryscorer in the competition, amassing 12 for the season.
Buckley said the Heelers were looking forward to the next challenge.
“The top three sides finished [the season] only four points apart, so it’s anyone’s race,” he explained.
“Southern Lakes claimed top spot on 56, while Easts 1 had 53 and Muswellbrook was a further point behind on 52.
“We’re now focusing on the qualifying final on Saturday against Easts 1 at the No 2 Sportsground in Newcastle.
“A win [there] will give us a shot against minor premiers Southern Lakes for the first berth in the 2017 decider.”