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REAL NRL: Scorpions have nothing to lose, says Higgins

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The Macquarie Scorpions will leave nothing in the sheds when they run onto St John Oval this weekend, according to Liam Higgins.

The Steve Kidd-coached outfit tackles the high-flying Central Newcastle Butcher Boys in the Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL) first semi-final on Saturday 29 August.

For the winner, it means a showdown with minor premiers Maitland Pickers – and another step closer to the 2022 Denton Engineering Cup.

“The play-offs are always exciting,” said Higgins, who indicated he’d be hanging up his boots at season’s end.

“The only team that has twice beaten us convincingly this year is Central Newcastle.

“But, we’re keen.”

Macquarie claimed an all-important top three berth on the ladder, finishing on 22 points alongside the Cessnock Goannas and South Newcastle Lions.

However, the Scorpions enjoyed a better “for and against” record, pushing their rivals into the elimination encounter.

“Everyone was very happy,” Higgins told the Newcastle Weekly.

“We just snuck into third at the last minute.

“I must admit, we kept an eye on the Cessnock-Maitland match though, especially with five minutes left on the clock.

“But, in saying that, I think we deserved it.

“We’ve only been beaten seven times in 2022 – and five of those defeats were by less than two points.

“We also knocked over the Pickers, Goannas and Lions during the year.

“So, we earned it.

“Now, the guys are ready to give it a good crack.”

As for Higgins, the tough-as-teak hooker knows the road to the grand final, which will take place at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday 11 September, won’t be easy.

“I reckon Central Newcastle is the favourite to win the competition, if I’m being honest,” the skipper said.

“They’ve been very good, winning 11 on the trot.

“The Butcher Boys are a big side; and their centres are probably the best pairing in the comp.

“We’re obviously going to have our hands full this weekend.

“However, there’s no pressure on us. It’s on them.

“So, we’ll go there – and give it our all.

“We have nothing to lose.”

In the other Denton Engineering Cup fixture, the Goannas and Lions head into battle at Baddeley Park, Cessnock, on Sunday 21 August.

For the loser, it’s “hasta la vista” until 2023.

Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL)

2022 play-off draw:

Semi-final 1

Saturday 20 August at St John Oval, Charlestown

  • 11.10am: Under-19s – South Newcastle Lions v Western Suburbs Rosellas
  • 12.25pm: Reserve grade – Northern Hawks v Western Suburbs Rosellas
  • 2pm: Denton Cup – Central Newcastle Butcher Boys v Macquarie Scorpions

Elimination semi-final

Sunday 21 August at Baddeley Park, Cessnock

  • 11.10am: Under-19s – Maitland Pickers v Macquarie Scorpions
  • 12.25pm: Reserve grade – Macquarie Scorpions v Lakes United Seagulls
  • 2pm: Denton Cup – Cessnock Goannas v South Newcastle Lions

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