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REAL NRL: Scorpions ready to give grand final a ‘red-hot’ crack

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With nothing to lose, the Macquarie Scorpions will give this weekend’s Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL) grand final a “red-hot” crack.

That’s the promise from head coach Steve Kidd, who’ll hang up the clipboard – no matter the outcome – following Sunday’s showdown with the Maitland Pickers at McDonald Jones Stadium.

After faltering against the same rivals 42-14 in the major semi two weeks ago, his chargers responded seven days later to dispose of the Cessnock Goannas 26-20 to set up another showdown with the minor premiers on 11 September.

But, the Scorpions did it the hard way.

Macquarie entered the match without playmaker Bayden Searle, lost forward Matthew Moon midway through the fixture, and had a couple of other players finish the game carrying injuries.

That’s on top of being without three other genuine first-graders in Ben Roose, Will Lousick and Bobby Treacy.

“It was a big effort,” Kidd said.

“In fact, I was super proud of them.

“We probably had every right to turn in up, trailing 20-12 with 20 to go, and not fight our way back.

“However, there’s a fair bit of resilience in the group.

“They’re just a great bunch of mates, who didn’t want to die wondering.

“It was a fantastic result for all their hard work this year.”

Kidd admitted he’d witnessed that strength of character many times during 2022.

“They hung in there when it mattered, you can’t ask for much more,” he said.

“Although, in our previous outing with Maitland, when it got out of reach, we didn’t really aim up.

“So, I was a little worried about that.

“But, I think the boys always knew if they held the ball, there were points in us.

“Even when we were down by eight, with 20 minutes remaining, I was still positive we’d win.

“Guys like Kerrod [Holland], Connor [Kirkwood] and Jeremy [Gibson] took the match by the scruff of the neck.

“Gibson was terrific.

“He loves that dominant responsibility where he’s the man in the halves.

“Although he works well with Bayden [Searle], he really enjoyed his role at the weekend having the full reign.

“It’s a credit to Jeremy.

“He’s a good young kid, he works really hard, so it was a great performance by him.”

Even though his troops are battered and bruised, Kidd said the Scorpions would rise to the challenge… again.

“We’re happy to be there [in the decider], obviously,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

“However, no one likes losing, so we’ll give it a crack.

“We’re confident if we turn up and play our best, we’ll be in with a sniff.

“The Pickers have class across the park.

“So, if we don’t control their middles and stifle the running game of their back-rowers, as well as [Alex] Langbridge at No 9 and [Brock] Lamb at No 7, trouble awaits.

“It begins with us containing their forward pack first.

“And, we probably didn’t do that well enough a fortnight ago at Maitland.

“They rolled through us far too easily.

“That’s where we’ve got to start.

“We’re aware we’ll need to be aggressive and complete our sets.

“That will then give us a good platform to be in the game.

“But, everyone’s ready to go.

“We’ll be well-prepared – and we will have 17 blokes there ripping in on Sunday, that’s for sure.”

Tickets for the Real NRL finale are on sale at newcastlerugbyleague.com.au

Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL)

2022 play-offs

Preliminary final

Saturday 3 September at Lyall Peacock Field, Toronto

  • Under-19s: Lakes United Seagulls d Maitland Pickers 26-4
  • Reserve grade: Western Suburbs Rosellas d Maitland Pickers 12-6
  • Denton Engineering Cup: Macquarie Scorpions d Cessnock Goannas 26-20

Grand final draw

Sunday 11 September at McDonald Jones Stadium

  • 11.45am: Under-19s – Western Suburbs Rosellas v Lakes United Seagulls
  • 1.15pm: Reserve grade – Northern Hawks v Western Suburbs Rosellas
  • 3pm: Denton Engineering Cup – Maitland Pickers v Macquarie Scorpions

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