Finals seeding for the tenth season play-offs are beginning to become clear, but a battle for second place – and the only other first week finals bye – could come down to the wire after results on Thursday evening.
Belmont have proven they are a force to be reckoned with, a strong turn around after their last three seasons coughed up two wooden spoon finishes and zero finals appearances, and that form continued with an 8-2 dismantling of Waratah.
It was a tough slog for the defeated team, collecting just one set point in each of the halves, while Belmont continued their scintillating form off the back of a strong performance from captain Nic Price to score 4 set points in each half.
Unless the ‘Tahs can turn their season around off the back of their two wins in the past six rounds, second place may slip through their fingers – a disappointing end for the championship-hopefuls after leading the competition for the opening seven rounds.
Earlier, Hamilton secured their fifth top-seed finish in as many seasons with an 8-5 victory over Cooks Hill.
The 3-point win guarantees the defending champions will not only have a rest in the first week of finals, but will likely face a lower-seeded opponent – a strong position to be in as the club looks to claim a record fifth title in the Newcastle Dodgeball League.
Finally, Raymond Terrace leapfrogged Rutherford in the standings after coming out victorious in the Northern Derby, although a top four finish is now out of the question for either of the clubs.
The Terrace’s rapid-fire victory – 9-6 in the end – came off the back of their resurgent form in the later half of the season, initially sparked by their shocking 14-3 outing against Rutherford just five weeks ago.
Since their 11-point loss in the derby, they have scored 10 points in their last five games, and were only defeated by one and three sets in matches against the top two sides – the Terrace may be entering the finals as a lower seed in the quarter-finals, but they won’t be an easy target for whoever draws them in eliminations.
FINALS: Hamilton and Belmont set up grand final rematch (9/11)
RD14: Waratah down Belmont in heated one-set thriller (2/11)
RD13: Shortland oust Hamilton from first with one to go (26/10)
RD12: Belmont upset Hamilton to blow first place race open (19/10)
RD11: Shortland take second after thriller against Belmont (12/10/18)
RD10: Waratah tumble into fourth place after slow start (5/10/18)
RD9: Top four teams hold off finals-hopefuls (28/09/18)
RD8: Hamilton claim first as league celebrates Ladies Day (21/09/18)
RD7: Shortland and Kotara clash goes down to the wire (14/09/18)
RD6: Waratah keep close on Hamilton's heels (07/09/18)
RD5: Hamilton prevail in grand final rematch (30/08/18)
RD4: Belmont tumble into ladder mix with defeat (24/08/18)
RD3: Waratah cuts Shortland's undefeated streak short (17/08/18)
RD2: Shortland break Terrace to continue strong start (10/08/18)
RD1: Waratah open account against long-standing rivals (03/08/18)
PRESEASON: Season 11's draw & key fixtures revealed (19/07/18)
PRESEASON: Registrations now open for NDL Season 11. (13/07/18)
GF: Hamilton extend dynasty with fifth championship (06/07/18)
SF: Belmont punch ticket to season decider with comeback (29/06/18)
QF: Raymond Terrace scores maiden finals victory (22/06/18)
RD15: Waratah confirm second place, first week bye (15/06/18)
RD14: Waratah steady the ship with key three-set win (08/06/18)
RD13: Belmont ensures the Waratah slide continues (01/06/18)
RD12: Cooks Hill and Belmont remain level with draw (25/05/18)
RD11: Waratah lose sight of first place after defeat (18/05/18)
RD10: Raymond Terrace shock Cookers in sudden death (11/05/18)
RD9: Cookers drop 'Tahs to second with 6-5 slug-fest (04/05/18)
RD8: Hamilton take revenge in Battle of Oakdale (27/04/18)
RD7: Bailey best on field as 'Tahs in cruise-control (20/04/18)
RD6: Waratah break three-year hoodoo over old rivals (13/04/18)
RD5: Hamilton reclaim first place with 13-0 masterclass (06/04/18)
RD4: League's closest round sees 'Tahs take top spot (23/03/18)
RD3: Cooks Hill record first point with 5-5 draw (16/03/18)
RD2: Sudden-death deciders see Hamilton pip Belmont (09/03/18)
RD1: Waratah-Hamilton classic ends in 6-all draw (02/03/18)