A round 3 defeat to Cessnock saw the teams only loss of the year before building into the season stringing together 13 straight wins. Tested with some long term injures to Matt Allwood, Tom Hughes and Pat Mata’utia the club looked to its youth to take the opportunities provided through those injuries. We were very proud to provide four players a First Grade debut this year in Tom Cant, Noah Nailagoliva, Taj Ridley and Lachlan Matthews. Three of those players came from our U19s and all four players being local juniors.
Congratulations must also go to Matt Soper Lawler, James Taylor, Jayden Butterfield and James Bradley on their Newcastle Rebels selections. Special mention must also be made of Taj Ridley being selected in the NSWCCC U18s team this year.
Our Reserve Grade had to manage using 46 players this year again providing opportunity to our U19s to be integrated into our team over the course of the year. This will provide the boys with valuable experience heading into next year. The team finished the year with 3 draws and had they turned those games into wins would have gone into the last round against Wests vying for second spot on the ladder.
The U19s like our reserve grade had to rely on the regular support of our U17s to prop them up through the middle of the year as injury took its toll throughout the club. Hanging tough through that mid part of the season the boys clung to a position in the top 5 and with players coming back at a rapid rate towards the end of the season were in a very strong position to give the finals a real shake.
Our Ladies Tag team backed up their 2020 success with first class performances week in week out. The girls eventually finishing second on the ladder but were successful in defeating all top 5 sides across the course of the year. We’re looking forward to watching the girls get back on the field next season with some unfinished business to take care of.
We’d also like to acknowledge the efforts of our U17s players, parents, and coaching staff. It was great to see the kids having the opportunity to wear the black and white coming through from our highly valued Pickers affiliate clubs to form a very competitive team. Having the kids under the Pickers banner allows us to invest time into their development and prepare them for grade. It was great to see several them come up throughout the season to assist our U19s.
The Maitland Pickers would like to thank all our generous sponsors in particular our major partners Club Maitland City, A Plus Contracting, Harcourts and Burtons Automotive. Without the support of our sponsors and community our club couldn’t achieve the high standards we’ve placed on ourselves. We’d also like to thank Carraro Design Management for their contribution in the professionalism displayed with our graphic design across the course of the year.
Clubs can’t function without a dedicated committee. Our volunteers are the heart and soul of the club, and we certainly have a loyal and committed bunch driving us forward. Congratulations to all our coaching staff your dedication across all areas is inspiring for our players and volunteers to continue to become better in all areas of our club.
Finally, we’d like to acknowledge the efforts of Charlie Haggett, Newcastle Rugby League board and the NSWRL for continuing to provide our region with the best standard of competitions in the area.