Hamilton, Belmont set up grand final rematch with one-set victories over Waratah, Shortland
Season 10 closed out with Hamilton taking a 10-4 victory over Belmont in the grand final, pulling away from a 4-all half-time scoreline to dominate the second half and lift the trophy for a record fifth time in the Newcastle Dodgeball League.
Now, despite finishing in fourth place during the regular season, the Beavers have a second chance at redemption when they come face to face with their finalist rivals next Thursday evening, an opportunity they earned by upsetting first seed Shortland in a come-from-behind 7-6 victory in the semi-finals.
It was a tight contest in the first clash of the final four on Thursday evening, as the Scotchies climbed to an early lead against Belmont, but in the end experience won out for the team in blue and gold, as they recovered a slow first half to claim a handful of set wins on the bounce and move just a single set ahead in the final round of the contest.
Belmont's road to the semi-final saw them take on Raymond Terrace in the earlier quarter final, as the Raccoons again gunned for a final four position after making the finals for the first time in their organisation's history last season.
The Beavers weren't the team to let them pass however, as they confirmed their match against Shortland with a 10-4 victory, and rounded out that leg of the finals.
On the other side of the bracket, Kotara and Waratah entered the first round of finals as the sixth and third seeds respectively, but in the end the match couldn't have been much closer - the Cobras finished the clash with a 9-6 win, but their final three set wins split the 6-all tie heading into the final stretch of the match.
Up until that point, the Kings had been taking the perennial-finalists Waratah to the wire, answering blow for blow as they looked to become the first team to head into the semi-finals from the lowest seed.
Unfortunately, their fairytale finish wasn't to be, as the 'Tahs moved one with their three-set win to face off against their oldest rivals in the league - Hamilton.
Once again the Waratah-Hamilton rivalry lived up to the billing, as two of the oldest teams in the competition pushed each other to the limits in a game of two distinct halves.
The Stags cruised out to a dominant lead early in the first half, stretching their advantage to three sets by the half break, but Waratah refused to bow down to their biggest foes, even as they dropped to a 3-to-7 deficit early in the second stanza.
From there, the Cobras nearly completed their recovery to book a ticket to the grand final, claiming three sets on the bounce to bring the game to within just a single set point before the comeback was cut short by the final whistle.
Despite four teams falling in the playoffs so far, all four of the organisations had stellar runs in the elimination rounds - Kotara nearly upset third seed Waratah in what could have kick-started a miracle run to the final, before the Cobras bounced back to force their old rivals to the limits. The other side of the bracket saw similar high-quality dodgeball, as Belmont climbed from fourth seed back to the title decider with a strong outing against the ever-improving Raymond Terrace, before one of the closest matches the finals have ever seen went their way in the dying moments of the clash.
Now, in the final clash of Season 11, Belmont have the chance to end Hamilton's reign, and claim revenge for their second half defeat just one campaign ago, while the Stags are looking to confirm an untouchable dynasty atop the Newcastle Dodgeball League throne.
The last match of the season - the title final - will begin at 7.30pm next Thursday evening.
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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)