Goannas coach Steve Kidd was left to lament two chances gone begging in the second half in a tight and hard-fought 18-10 loss to Central Newcastle at St John Oval on Sunday..
“The effort was outstanding and I couldn’t fault them there, but just our execution was down,” Kidd said.
“The first 30 [minutes] we had the run of the game basically but only got one and missed another couple in the second half.
“But credit to Central, they defended their line well and we couldn’t quite break them down enough times.”
Cessnock centre Brendan Williams opened the scoring after 15 minutes but the hosts hit back via left-edge pairing Steve Gordon and Jared Nott for a 12-4 lead at the break.
It stayed that way for most of the second half before Nott’s second, and Brad Murray’s third conversion, sealed the result.
Goannas substitute Sam Apthorpe nabbed a late consolation try.
Central, who finished seventh last season, remain the only unbeaten side in 2017 ahead of encounters with Western Suburbs, Macquarie and title holders South Newcastle.
“That was a tough game and Cessnock really took it to us,” Miller said.
“But there were really good signs for us to play like that and get a win, because we had to be really strong on our line and that’s the sign of a maturing side.”
Central wore pink jerseys and the Goannas donned pink socks as part of the Butcher Boys fundraising efforts for the McGrath Foundation.
Cessnock’s tough start to the season continues when they face Macquarie Scorpions at home on Saturday at the later time of 4.35pm with the Newcastle Rebebls Under-23 and Ladies League Tag round two fixtures part of a huge day of footy at Cessnock Sportsground.
There next three games after the Scorpions could very well shape the Goannas’ season with fixtures against the Maitland Pickers (away), Lakes United (home) and South Newcastle (away). Maitland and Souths have just one win for the season and Lakes two.
In other results on Saturday, the Goannas reserve grade team were 22-0 winners against Central, the under-19s won 28-16 and the Ladies League Tag team went down 72-0 against the undefeated Central ladies.
The reserves are fourth on the ladder with two wins and face top-side the undefeated Scorpions in round five.
The under-19s are undefeated after four rounds and sit on top of the ladder. The Ladies League Tag team are still chasing their first win of the season and have a big chance of breaking their drought against fellow cellar dweller Macquarie.
FIRST GRADE LADDER: Central 8, Wests 6, Macquarie, Lakes 4, Souths, Kurri, Maitland, Cessnock, 2