Pickers and Goannas clash on as Newcastle RL votes to continue 2020 season

GAME ON: The Maitland Pickers will host Cessnock on Saturday after the Newcastle RL board voted to proceed with the final three rounds of the competition.
GAME ON: The Maitland Pickers will host Cessnock on Saturday after the Newcastle RL board voted to proceed with the final three rounds of the competition.

The Newcastle Rugby League board will proceed with the remaining three rounds of the 2020 season and to hold a compressed finals series with the grand final on October 18.

The decision means the Coalfields fixture between Maitland and Cessnock will be held at the Maitland Sportsground in conjunction with the Pickers' President's Cup semi-final against Hill Bulls.

There has been growing feeling among some quarters that the postponement of last weekend's rounds in the wake of Central Newcastle player Joel Dark's death may have been an opportune time to finish the season altogether or perhaps bring forward the finals series to start this weekend based on ladder placings after round eight.

Dark, 19, died in John Hunter Hospital on Friday, five days since he was admitted in a critical condition, after collapsing on field during a first grade match against Western Suburbs at St John Oval.

In a statement to clubs, the Newcastle RL said the remaining competition rounds will be pushed back one week and the final series will be compressed into a two-week format with the grand final to remain on October 9.

Starting times for games will be finalised today, but the day will include Maitland and Cessnock meeting in Blues Tag and tier one and Maitland and Macquarie scorpions in under-19s.

Capacity for the Maitland Sportsground on Saturday has been lifted from 500 to 2500 people, however strict Covid distancing restrictions will still apply and extra security staff will be employed to ensure people abide by regulations

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This story Newcastle RL season continues with compressed finals series first appeared on The Maitland Mercury.