DESPITE a late-game comeback from the defending champions, Waratah opened their Season 11 account in the Newcastle Dodgeball League with a 7-6 victory over old rivals Hamilton.
The one-set win was another classic in the annals of the two founding clubs’ long history, and one that nearly ended in a draw, as Hamilton surged back from a shaky opening half to fall just one set short of a comeback.
Last season’s premiers saw the half-whistle stop proceedings in favour of the Cobras, 6-2, and another quick defeat to open the second half saw their deficit balloon to five.
From there, Hamilton found their footing in the match, scoring four set points to close out the match, but it wasn’t enough to collect the four points as their defence began with an agonising loss.
It’s a strong start for the ‘Tahs after their disappointing exit in the semi-finals last season, and with new faces added to the roster in the transfer window many will be tipping the Cobras to make tracks towards a grand final berth in the club’s eleventh campaign.
Elsewhere at Oakdale Arena, Shortland came out firing in their debut match in the competition, with the Scotchies shocking Cooks Hill 10-3 to move into first place after the first week.
It was a beleaguered Cookers that appeared in the opening round of Season 11, and Shortland took full advantage of the slow start to stretch their lead to 6-2 at the break, and a slower second half saw them keep their lead to the final whistle.
Later, Belmont took their first step on a path back to the grand final after their defeat at the hands of Hamilton in Season 10’s penultimate clash, downing Bar Beach 10-4 to move into second.
Finally, Raymond Terrace welcomed the second entrant organisation to the league with a fast-paced 10-6 win, with Kotara making a statement of intent despite their defeat – to push last season’s semi-finalists to a lofty sixteen games means many will watch their opening weeks with rising interest.
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)