Macquarie coach Adam Bettridge will be trialling a virtually all-new spine this weekend following a horror run of injuries to key players.
The Scorpions will be without lock Todd Hurrell (shoulder), halfback Andy Sumner (broken arm) and fullback Kyle Eather (knee) for extended periods, starting with Saturday’s clash with Maitland at Lyall Peacock Field.
Hooker Kelly Benson (ankle) was already sidelined.
It comes after Macquarie rallied from behind to edge out last-placed South Newcastle 28-26 late at Toronto on Saturday in what Bettridge described as “one of the gutsiest wins I’ve seen”.
“They all went down in the first half, so it was outstanding for our boys to keep turning up,” last year’s premiership-winning mentor said.
“Guys played longer minutes than they should and we went behind on the scoreboard, but somehow managed to get over the line."
Scorpions five-eighth Scott Briggs kicked a sideline conversion to take the lead inside the final five minutes after winger Matt Simon collected an opposition chip and chase kick on the fly and ran 70 metres to score a try in the corner.
As for the long-term prognosis of Hurrell, Sumner and Eather: “Todd’s out for two months, Andy’s out for two months and Kyle could potentially be done for the year,” Bettridge said.
Elsewhere in round three and the Bulldogs kept their winning streak intact with a 24-12 triumph against Lakes at Kurri Sportsground on Saturday. Mitch Cullen led the way for the hosts, filling in for rested player-of-the-year leader Jade Porter in the halves, while second-rower Reid Alchin doubled up on the scoresheet. Kurri were ahead 14-12 at half-time. The Seagulls also look set to lose playmaker Curtis Naughton with an ankle injury.
“We were out-enthused by Kurri,” Lakes coach Todd Edwards said.
Central Newcastle romped home 36-12 to account for the previously unbeaten Pickers at Maitland Sportsground on Saturday. Butcher Boys centre Simon Williams scored two of the visitors’ six tries while opposite number Scott Williams picked up a four pointer for the hosts. Central led 22-4 at the turn.
“Our combinations are starting to form and control better,” Central coach Craig Miller said.
Sunday’s sole game saw Cessnock breakthrough for their first win of 2018 with a 20-6 victory over Western Suburbs at Harker Oval. The Goannas kept the Rosellas scoreless in the second half after leading 12-6 at the break. Joe Woodbury nabbed a double for Cessnock while Blake Andrews and Josh Aduwumaa also crossed for the visitors. Wests halfback Sam Kennan converted his own try.
Meanwhile, the Newcastle Rebels representative squad is expected to train this week after being officially announced in the coming days.
LADDER: Macquarie, Kurri 6; Maitland 4; Lakes, Wests, Central, Cessnock 2; Souths 0.
ROUND 3 RESULTS
MACQUARIE 28 (Simon 2, Hay, Sumner, R Briggs tries; S Briggs 4 goals) def SOUTH NEWCASTLE 26 (Schneider, Flanagan, Morris, Glanville tries; Boney 5 goals)
CENTRAL NEWCASTLE 36 (Williams 2, Richardson, Ikinofo, Cook, Nott; Murray 6 goals) def MAITLAND 12 (Williams, Watson tries; Walsh 2 goals)
KURRI KURRI 24 (Alchin 2, Dunstan, Hammond, Haines tries; Cullen 2 goals) def LAKES 12 (Naughton 2 tries; Kennedy 2 goals)
CESSNOCK 20 (Woodbury 2, Andrews, Adu tries; McNamara 2 goals) def WESTERN SUBURBS 6 (Keenan try; Keenan goal)