AN emphatic victory for Waratah over ‘old enemy’ Hamilton tasted all the sweeter as they leap-frogged their rivals to return to first place.
Their 7-3 win over the defending premiers snapped a nine game run that had seen five draws and four triumphs for Hamilton since the ‘Tahs last tasted victory in the derby, on October 15, 2015.
Early on the match-up the game seemed destined for another draw however, with Waratah’s 3-2 lead at the break seeming marginal.
A 4-1 second half to the league leaders, sparked in part by a series of second-phase catches and a handful of doubles for Luke Ellis and Andrew de Souza, was too much for Hamilton to overcome.
Even as Hamo fell, Belmont moved level with them on the table with a 9-8 win over Raymond Terrace.
The first season at Oakdale Arena may have been a blessing for the squad, as their win puts them 6 points clear into a playoff position, and a chance to play finals for the first time in the club’s history.
Although the Terrace failed to secure competitive points, the match-up was as close as league fixtures get, with Dan Jenkinson putting in another surging performance for the second week in a row.
Maddie Jordan and Jaimi Bubb both shone for Belmont in their win, and their uptick in form in Season 10 may have already played a crucial part in the Bels chance for a miracle run to the finals.
The last match of the round was responsible for the three-way tie from second to fourth on the ladder, as Cooks Hill recorded their third straight win.
After victories against Hamilton and the ‘Tahs in the past two fixtures, the Cookers nearly let slip their red-hot form against Rutherford, but a late surge as well as shining performances from Caleb Gribble and new recruit Tom Newman earned them the points.
Led by vice-captain Lewis Foot after Benjamin McIntyre was side-lined with injury, the team faced a tough contest down centre court against Rutherford’s Peter Goldthorpe, but managed to walk away with the 9-6 win.
McIntyre is reportedly expected to return next round when Cooks Hill face Belmont.
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)