Four weeks into Season 12 of the Newcastle Dodgeball League, and just one team remains undefeated - defending minor premiers Shortland.
After two strong victories over Glendale and Bar Beach to open their season, the Scotchies nearly slipped against Waratah last week in an edgy 7-6. This week, Hamilton proved less of a speed-bump as the team looks to return to the top spot and take another shot at the playoffs.
Shortland recorded a 9-4 win over the former champions, with the Stags struggling to string points together in the early battles of the second half. Despite a tight start that saw the Stags and the eventual winners trade sets in the opening four, Hamilton would manage just two more point-wins in the following nine, slipping to the five-point loss to send them spiralling to a 1-3 record in seventh place.
The other grand final team from Season 11, Belmont, had a better run of it on Thursday evening as they downed Glendale 15-1 to return to second place over the defeated Kotara.
The Kings fell to their first loss of the season against a resurgent Waratah, who themselves were starring down the barrel of three straight losses after knocking off arch-rivals Hamilton in the opening round. The Cobras were able to clinch a 7-5 win off the back of a flurry of set-point wins late in the contest however, after the teams were locked at 4-4 before a two and a half minute sudden death round - the longest ever recorded in the NDL's 350+ official matches.
Finally, another record was broken in Round 4 of the season, as Bar Beach and Raymond Terrace played out a lightning-quick 21-set contest that saw the Boomers move ahead 11-10 to bag their second win of the season. The match cleared the next highest set-count for a match by just one, with the former record set by the same teams in their Round 13 meeting just last season. The Raccoons were the victors of that meeting, 14-6.
STANDINGS: Shortland (12), Belmont, Kotara (10), Waratah, Bar Beach (8), Raymond Terrace, Hamilton (6), Glendale (4).
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)