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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald
Max McKinney

Central risk Maitland 'towel up' without improvement on past start

TRY TIME: Maitland centre Gary Anderson scores in the Pickers' 24-10 win over Central at St John Oval in round one earlier this year. Picture: Peter Lorimer

Central coach Phil Williams says his players will need to drastically improve on their last start otherwise Newcastle Rugby League leaders Maitland "will towel us up".

The Butcher Boys travel to Maitland's No.1 Sportsground today with a chance to avenge their season-opening loss to the Pickers.

With the season now at its mid-point, all five games in round 10 are reverse fixtures of those scheduled in round one.

Central trailed by only six points at halftime against Maitland in the season opener, but the Pickers went on to claim a 24-10 victory. They then won their next seven games before a shock loss last week.

"They're the yardstick, you've just got to be on your game for the 80 minutes," Williams said of Maitland. "There can't be a lax minute, you've just got to keep working.

"Hopefully they're a little bit down on their game and we're right on ours."

Central suffered a 38-22 loss to Cessnock last week with Williams highly critical of his side's preparation and attitude, lamenting a "poor" performance all-round.

Multiple Central players were struggling to overcome niggles this week but Williams was tight-lipped about who was in doubt.

Sitting fifth after five wins and three losses this season, Central will need to be "a lot better" than they were last week, Williams said, otherwise "Maitland will towel us up".

The Pickers suffered their first loss in more than a year last week with Macquarie holding on for a 21-20 victory at home.

Williams is hoping his side can emulate Macquarie's strong opening 40 minutes and put Maitland under the pump early.

"That's what happened last week with Macquarie, they were on song first-half and that put some pressure on Maitland," William said. "That may be the template to beat them. Who knows?"

Veteran half Luke Walsh returned for Central last week but has not been named to play today. Maitland are almost full-strength but will be without Pat Mata'utia who copped a two-game suspension for a crusher tackle last week.

Wests and The Entrance also get a chance to strike back on Sunday against opponents they lost to in the opening round.

Wests, who fell agonisingly short of recording their first win this season against Souths last week - losing 16-10 in the game's final few minutes - host fourth-placed Cessnock at Harker Oval on Sunday. Cessnock won the first contest 14-10.

The Entrance, who lost to Wyong 16-12 in the season opener, host the Roos at EDSACC Oval in what is a mid-table clash.

In the two other games, which were washouts in round one, Lakes United hosts Kurri Kurri on Saturday while Souths and Macquarie, who are equal second, meet at Townson Oval on Sunday.

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