For the second time in as many seasons a Coalfields team has put themselves within one win of a Newcastle Rugby League grand final after finishing fifth on the competition ladder.
The Goannas snuck into the play-offs after upsetting Souths at Townson Oval a fortnight ago and struck again on Saturday by knocking out the defending premiers with a 32-28 win at home at Cessnock Sportsground.
Cessnock, following in Kurri's footsteps from 12 months ago after eliminating Maitland last weekend, scored six tries to five in the minor semi-final.
The hosts led 22-6 at half-time having crossed four times in a quarter of an hour between the 12th and 27th minutes.
Souths replied with three tries either side of the break to reduce the margin to four.
Cessnock laid on another two four pointers, including Scott Briggs' fourth conversion, to go ahead by 14 with a little over 15 minutes to play.
Back-to-back tries put Souths within striking distance, but it wasn't enough and the Lions now slip out of the 2019 title race.
The Goannas progress to meet the loser of Sunday's major semi-final between minor premiers Wests and Central at Harker Oval.
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