For the first time in the Newcastle Dodgeball League’s tenth season, the team topping the table has breathing room, after Hamilton easily accounted for their premier-contenders Waratah in an 8(3)-1 landslide.
In a match that saw a third of all sets go to a sudden-death decider, the ‘Tahs control of the match slipped away, leaving them chasing advantages and struggling to get back into the contest.
In the end, a shining performance from Alexander McIntyre stifled any luck Waratah may have found on the day, as he marched to a half-dozen catches, a match-high block haul and a double hat-trick of eliminations late on.
All three sudden-death rounds falling to Hamilton also put the ‘Tahs further behind, with two protracted deciders being decided by a catch from Lachlan Craig and an elimination from Doug Byrne.
Later, Belmont battled their way back to shared points against Raymond Terrace, eventually locking the score at 7-all to remain in third.
The Terrace took an early lead in the match however, with standout performances from Nathan Lindbeck and Rynell Williams securing them at least two points early on.
The combined efforts of front-men Jaimi Bubb and Liam Janczuk for Belmont was enough to keep them in the contest, but the side will be wary after Cooks Hills’ win puts them level in the standings.
Cooks Hill accounted for Rutherford 9-2 as they bounced back from their sobering defeat last round, and although early season defeats haunt their point difference, the squad is still very much in the race for a first week finals bye.
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)