AFTER 15 weeks of toing and froing, and fine-tuning team combinations, Bengalla Hunter Valley Group 21 Rugby League enters the business end of the season this weekend.
Defending premiers Scone Thoroughbreds will host the major semi-finals at Scone Park on Sunday, August 25, with the home club facing the Aberdeen Tigers (first grade), Merriwa Magpies (reserves) and Murrurundi Mavettes (league tag).
The under-18 showdown features the Singleton Greyhounds and Muswellbrook Rams.
All the winners of those fixtures will move directly into the 2019 deciders on September 7.
Meanwhile, the minor semi-finals are scheduled to be played at Singleton's Pirtek Park on Saturday, August 24.
The Greyhounds tackle the Denman Devils in the main encounter, with the Tigers taking on the Rams (reserves) and Thoroughbreds (under-18s) in the lower grades.
In league tag, the Magpies are locking horns with the Ramettes.
It's been a somewhat difficult year for Group 21, with Muswellbrook and the Greta Branxton Colts both failing to field senior sides - forcing officials to coordinate a four-team competition.
And, now, with the home and away rounds done and dusted, the standard is expected to lift a notch or two as the Thoroughbreds, Tigers, Greyhounds and Devils eye off the top prize.
Undefeated Scone heads into the play-offs in sparkling form following a further big win at the weekend, this time over Singleton 46-10.
In the other showdown, and in another shortened game, Aberdeen crushed a 10-man Denman outfit 50-0 as full-time was called just after the break.
The Rams' emphatic 68-0 victory over the Devils in reserves elevated the squad into fourth spot, at the expense of the Greyhounds, who suffered a 30-16 loss to the Thoroughbreds, while the Mavericks pipped the Colts 30-24 and the Tigers upset the Magpies 14-12.
In under-18s, Muswellbrook beat Denman 38-26 and Singleton defeated Scone 62-6.
League tag pacesetters, the Thoroughbreds, shut out the Greyhounds 36-0, the Ramettes thrashed the She-Devils 58-0 and the Magpies accounted for the Tigers 24-4.
Round 15 results
First grade - Scone defeated Singleton 46-10, Aberdeen defeated Denman 50-0
Reserve grade - Murrurundi defeated Greta Branxton 30-24, Scone defeated Singleton 30-16, Aberdeen defeated Merriwa 14-12, Muswellbrook defeated Denman 68-0
Under-18s - Muswellbrook defeated Denman 38-26, Singleton defeated Scone 62-6
League tag - Merriwa defeated Aberdeen 24-4, Scone defeated Singleton 36-0, Muswellbrook defeated Denman 58-0
First grade - Scone 30, Aberdeen 16, Singleton 10, Denman 4
Reserve grade - Scone 25, Merriwa 24, Aberdeen 23, Muswellbrook 18, Singleton 18, Murrurundi 4, Greta Branxton 2, Denman 2 (qualification breach Rd.4 DRLFC loss of 2 points; qualification breach Rd.5 Murrurundi loss of 2 points)
Under-18s - Singleton 29, Muswellbrook 21, Aberdeen 15, Scone 14, Denman 9 (qualification breach Rd.1 DRLFC loss of 2 points)
League tag - Scone 28, Murrurundi 26, Merriwa 21, Muswellbrook 15, Singleton 12, Aberdeen 12, Denman 2 (qualification breach Rd.1 DRLFC loss of 2 points; qualification breach Rd.1 Muswellbrook loss of 2 points)
Club championships - Scone Rugby League Football Club Inc 125.5, Aberdeen Rugby League Football Club Inc 87.5, Singleton United Rugby League Football Club Inc 82, Muswellbrook Rugby League Football Club Inc 56.5, Merriwa Rugby League Football Club Inc 46.5, Denman Rugby League Football Club Inc 27, Murrurundi Rugby League Football Club Inc 22, Greta Branxton Rugby League Football Club Inc 3
2019 play-off draw
Saturday, August 24 -
Minor semi-final (Pirtek Park, Singleton)
(Times to be confirmed)
11.45am: league tag, Merriwa v Muswellbrook
1pm: under-18s, Aberdeen v Scone
2.25pm: reserve grade, Aberdeen v Muswellbrook
4pm: first grade, Singleton v Denman
Sunday, August 25 -
Major semi-final (Scone Park, Scone)
10am: league tag, Scone v Murrurundi
11.15am: under-18s, Singleton v Muswellbrook
12.40pm: reserve grade, Scone v Merriwa
2.15pm: first grade, Scone v Aberdeen