The Cessnock Goannas have jumped to second on the Newcastle RL ladder with an emphatic 40-16 win against Macquarie Scorpions on Saturday.
The win and Central Newcastle's 34-0 loss to the Maitland Pickers saw the Goannas (22) take a one-point lead over the Butcher Boys (21) with two rounds remaining.
Unfortunately, the Goannas will be out of action again this weekend with their scheduled game against The Entrance to be treated as a Covid-draw, meaning Cessnock will only collect one point from a game they would have expected to win.
It is the third Covid-draw Cessnock has had to endure with games against Wyong and Lakes United cancelled in the initial stages of the Covid lockdown across the Central Coast.
To rub salt in the Goannas' wounds, Central will play Lakes United on Saturday, after the Seagulls were given clearance to resume in round 15 after Covid-draws against Cessnock and Maitland.
"We have done all we can to secure second and a home final, we can only hope that we are not denied by another anomaly in how the league has dealt with Covid," Cessnock coach Todd Edwards said.
"Central should win and win by a big margin which gives them two points and a for and against boost which we were denied.
"By the end of the season they will have played 17 games and we'll play 15. It isn't fair but we have to accept it and get on with what we can control."
The Goannas were fully in control against the Scorpions at Cessnock Sportsground on Saturday with another best-on-ground performance by Wyatt Shaw.
Hooker Billy Gilbert and lock Connor Kirkwood were close behind with strong games as well.
"We were full of polish, it was a good performance," Edwards said of his team's seven tries to three victory.
"It's a bit like a broken record, but Wyatt Shaw was again our best player. He has just been so consistent.
"Him and Billy Gilbert were very strong as was Connor Kirkwood backing up from what he did last week as well. Harry O'Brien had a good game as well.
"It was a really good performance all round by the team."
Gilbert and Harvey Neville both got doubles and Kirkwood, Shaw and Mitchell Smith also crossed for tries.
AJ Davis landed six of seven conversions.
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