The third round of the competition has seen Waratah take control of the top of the table with a strong 8-3 win over Rutherford.
Their performance showed a glimpse back to their fifth season form that saw them claim the championship, as they locked their opponents out for a 6-0 first half.
The 6-game surge included a last second catch from Eva Bailey, taken on the fly, to snatch the game win and keep Rutherford on the back foot.
The team’s momentum flagged in the second as Rutherford reversed fortunes to claim the half 3-2, but it wasn’t enough to scale the first-half pile, and the ‘Tahs walked away with 2 points and the lofty heights of first.
Hamilton had a chance to snatch back the top spot on point difference as they came up against Raymond Terrace, but a 7-5 win wasn’t enough to change the standings from the first match.
Hamilton left it to the wire again to secure points, with the scoreline locked at 5-5 coming into the final two starts, but two strong performances – and a series of catches from Thomas McCallum in the final round to remove all doubt – bagged them the win.
It wasn’t through lack of trying that Raymond Terrace fell however, as they debuted two new players and had one of the stand-out performers of the round.
Terrace’s captain Peter Goldthorpe, often described as ‘unhittable’, was key to all five of the team’s points as they challenged the repeat champions to the very end, and the now-fifth place team will take confidence from the defeat.
The final match of the round was a special one for Cooks Hill, as the team that has made two of the last three grand finals managed to scrape a point from the match.
Although Benjamin McIntyre’s performance was reminiscent of old forms when he played for Hamilton, mistakes in the early rounds couldn’t keep them in the lead.
The Cookers stumbled at the last hurdle, allowing Belmont to fight back into the match-up and walk away with a point apiece.
Cooks Hill remains on the bottom of the table after the split points, but this early on in the season a win could see them climb as high as third, and a place in the finals once more.
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RD1: Fast-starting Waratah launch new campaign in style (02/08)
PRESEASON: Season 13's draw & key fixtures revealed (26/07/19)
Finals: Scotchies clinch first title with rampage over Belmont (21/06)
RD14: Shortland, Hamilton lead top seeds heading into playoffs (07/06)
RD13: Glendale stun Belmont 7-3 to climb out of cellar (31/05)
RD12: Jesmond bundle up Waratah to set race for top four alight (24/05)
RD11: Beavers back on track with win over the Kings (17/05)
RD10: Terrace back in the winner's circle with Hamilton upset (10/05)
RD9: Belmont and Waratah locked at standstill (03/05)
RD8: Stags down 'Tahs in grudge match battle for third (19/04)
RD7: Belmont bounce back with spoiler win against Kotara (12/04)
RD6: Scotches wave away Belmont bid to stay top (05/04)
RD5: Waratah right season with Raccoons win (29/03)
RD4: Shortland stay undefeated with fourth win (22/03)
RD3: Hamilton claim revenge in grand final rematch (15/03)
RD2: Bar Beach hold off Glendale to bag first win (08/03)
RD1: Waratah sweep aside arch-rivals with major margin (01/03)
PRESEASON: Season 12's draw & key fixtures revealed (08/02/19)
PRESEASON: Rego now open for NDL Season 12. (01/02/18)
GF: Belmont edge out Hamilton in two-set grand final epic (16/11)
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)