Macquarie will ride a wave of unbelievable confidence into a third straight Newcastle Rugby League decider after producing a 60-0 preliminary final annihilation of Central at Townson Oval on Sunday.
A week after being beaten 35-8 by grand final opponents Western Suburbs and with their 2017 campaign on the line, the Scorpions turned it completely around by crossing for an incredible 11 tries and managing to keep the Butcher Boys scoreless.
Macquarie were relentless, clinical at either end of the field and made the most of almost every single opportunity, scoring 40 second-half points and running out comprehensive victors.
Scorpions coach Adam Bettridge can’t remember seeing anything like it.
“Never, ever,” he said.
“Last year we beat Lakes 40-0 I think, but this one 60-0, and especially being a preliminary final. It was just one of them days.
“Central had a good year and they’ve got a few injuries, but for our boys to adjust and play what was in front of them was fantastic.
“We’re a happy camp, we’re going to enjoy this week and we’re already looking forward to getting down there on Saturday.”
It was a disappointing note for Central, striving for their first grand final appearance since 1963, to finish their season after improving from second last to third in the space of 12 months.
The Butcher Boys’ cause wasn’t helped during the week with captain Ethan Cook ruled out and still in hospital after undergoing unexpected surgery on an infected knee on Friday.
“We’ve not offering excuses,” Central coach Craig Miller said. “Embarrassed by the scoreline but we will come back better for it next year.”
Macquarie and Wests have met once before on grand final day in 1991. The Scorpions, then known as Toronto, won 21-10.
Wests had this weekend off but Rosellas hooker Chad Redman posted on Twitter shortly after full-time.
“Congrats Scorps!! 2 best sides go at it next weekend! Will be a cracker can’t wait,” the former NRL rake said.
Saturday’s showdown at McDonald Jones Stadium will also showcase four other clubs in the lower grades with Souths and Wests in reserves, Lakes and Cessnock in under 19s and Souths and Central in ladies league tag.
Meanwhile the Shortland Devils, featuring former Knights premiership winner and dual international Timana Tahu, were beaten 31-26 by the Fingal Bay Bomboras in Saturday’s Newcastle and Hunter Rugby League grand final at No.1 Sportsground.
The remaining second division major premierships were claimed by the Dudley Magpies (B-grade), Waratah-Mayfield Cheetahs (C-grade) and Glendale Gorillas (D-grade). Ladies league tag titles went to the Aberglaslyn Ants (tier A) and Cardiff Cobras (tier B).
MACQUARIE 60 (Matt Hay 2, Nathan Cantor 2, Andy Sumner 2, Ryan Pywell, Matt Simon, Randall Briggs, Daniel Abraham tries; Scott Briggs 6, Sumner, Abraham goals) defeat CENTRAL 0