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REAL NRL: Holland just taking it ‘one game at a time’

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It’s a cliché but it is fair to say Macquarie Scorpions fullback Kerrod Holland is just taking it “one game at a time”.

That’s how the pointscoring machine’s treating this weekend’s Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL) preliminary final against the giant-killing Cessnock Goannas.

The winner of Saturday 3 September’s showdown at Lyall Peacock Field faces the Maitland Pickers in the 2022 decider.

However, that thought hasn’t even entered the mind of the former NRL star, who represented the Canterbury Bulldogs on 71 occasions from 2016 to 2020.

“For me personally, I’m not even thinking of Maitland,” Holland said.

“Cessnock is my main focus.

“They’re in front of us first.

“So, I’m not looking too far ahead.

“We’ll cross that bridge later.”

The Scorpions, who secured third spot on the Real NRL ladder, put the cleaners through the Central Newcastle Butcher Boys in the play-off opener but fell to the Pickers 42-14 last weekend.

It doubled as a costly loss for Macquarie, with halfback Bayden Searle suffering a season-ending injury.

“Maitland was just too good for us,” admitted Holland, a Singleton Greyhounds junior.

“There wasn’t a lot between the sides in the first half – we went to the sheds trailing 16-4.

“But, I think Bayden breaking his leg just before the break knocked the wind out of us a bit.

“Then a few other things didn’t go our way.

“On a positive note, there’s heaps to learn from that [performance].

“I believe our rotation will help massively with what we’re going to do this Saturday.

“The Goannas boast a big pack, so we need to be strong in the middle.

“It’ll be a change with Bayden out; however, we’ll see how we line-up.”

Macquarie and Cessnock head into the encounter with a win apiece following the “home and away” rounds.

Both clubs also amassed 22 competition points, with the Scorpions possessing a better differential.

So, the battlelines are drawn for an even fight.

“We’ve enjoyed some good matches with them,” Holland told the Newcastle Weekly.

“The last time we played, in round 12, they pipped us 11-10 at home.

“However, we got them 20-10 back in April.

“They’ve been going well the past couple of weeks, eliminating the [South Newcastle] Lions and Butcher Boys.

“It’ll be interesting to see what transpires.

“I think we just need to concentrate on ourselves.

“To be honest, we haven’t played a full 80 minutes of football yet [this year].

“We’ve been guilty of beating ourselves.

“So, if we can stick in the match, and execute the game plan that Kiddy (coach Steve Kidd) puts forward this week, I think we’ll go a long way to making the grand final.

“We produced a good effort against Central Newcastle in the first semi.

“The boys performed well on that occasion, so we know what we’re capable of.

“But, there was a period in the second half where we dropped off for 20 minutes before we finished strongly to prevail 36-18.

“That’s something we can’t afford to do again.

“If we can play for the entire 80 [minutes], we’ll be competitive.”

In reserve grade, the Pickers will lock horns with the Western Suburbs Rosellas while Maitland tackles the Lakes United Seagulls in the under-19 fixture.

Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL)

2022 play-offs

Major semi-final

Saturday 27 August at No 1 Sportsground, Maitland

  • Under-19s: Western Suburbs Rosellas d Lakes United Seagulls 19-18
  • Reserve grade: Northern Hawks d Maitland Pickers 36-4
  • Denton Engineering Cup: Maitland Pickers d Macquarie Scorpions 42-14

Minor semi-final

Sunday 28 August at Townson Oval, Merewether

  • Under-19s: Maitland Pickers d South Newcastle Lions 28-16
  • Reserve grade: Western Suburbs Rosellas d Macquarie Scorpions 38-12
  • Denton Engineering Cup: Cessnock Goannas d Central Newcastle Butcher Boys 22-16

Preliminary final

Saturday 3 September at Lyall Peacock Field

  • 11.10am: Under-19s – Lakes United Seagulls v Maitland Pickers
  • 12.30pm: Reserve grade – Maitland Pickers v Western Suburbs Rosellas
  • 2pm: Denton Engineering Cup – Macquarie Scorpions v Cessnock Goannas

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