Stroud Raiders have been declared the premiers of the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby League northern conference.
This follows the decision to cancel the remainder of the season due to the extension of the statewide lockdown. It had been a closely fought competition, with the Raiders on top of the ladder, one win ahead of Paterson and two clear of Dungog as the season headed into the semi-finals. The decision was made to reward the teams leading the various competitions the premiers as no more play was possible.
"The top four teams in the northern conference were all pretty close,'' Raiders publicity officer Hannah Borg said.
She also plays in the club's women's league tag team.
Hannah thought Paterson and Dungog Warriors would have been Stroud's main rivals for premiership honours had the semi-finals progressed.
"Karuah Roos definitely came back strongly in the last few games though and looked like an underdog in the semis,'' she added.
This will be Stroud's first premiership since 2010. The Raiders were grand finalists in 2019.
Hannan said veteran Clint Osbourne was a stand out player this season.
"Young pups Brady Thomas, Harry Reid and Fred Kierce were also strong. All the boys this year were very consistent,'' she added.
"It takes a lot of effort to make it to semis.''
Steve Boyton coached the side and the club hopes he will take on the job again in 2022, when, hopefully they'll be able to complete a season.
"Steve coached and played in Berkeley Vale in his early years. A Stroud local, he definitely has a lot of respect from all the boys and brings a lot of wisdom and strength to the team,'' Hannah continued.
It was an at time difficult season for the women's league tag.
"We won the C-grade comp in 2019 and were then bumped up two grades last year to A grade,'' Hannah explained.
"We managed a few wins this year but it was hard when the Newcastle competition and Hunter/country competition merged. The Newcastle competition is very strong but Stroud showed commitment and didn't give up all season.''
Stroud entered the league tag competition in 2018.
Experienced Simon Chappell was the league tag coach.
"Simon has coached for the last three years,'' Hannah said.
"He has a strong Oztag and footy background, playing for Stroud, Manly and in the English Super League. We hope he coaches next year - the girls love him.''
Victoria Hawthorn, Holly Fisher-Webster and Summah Harrison were consistent throughout the season.
"All the girls definitely gave 100 per cent all year and never gave up,'' Hannah added.
"Hopefully we will be graded better next year so we can have a hope at finals.''
The Raiders and their supporters are now looking forward to celebrating the premiership, although everything will be on hold until fulltime is called on the lockdown.