MACQUARIE Scorpions will travel to Harker Oval on Sunday to challenge competition leaders Western Suburbs in one of the most anticipated showdowns of the Newcastle Rugby League season.
Wests lead the competition ladder on 18 points from 10 games.
Macquarie is second on 18 points, from 11 games.
The only game that the Rosellas have dropped this season was against Macquarie at Lyall Peacock Field in Round 4.
Both teams take imposing form into the top-of-the-table clash.
Macquarie was rocked last month by the season-ending injury sustained by Blake Gallen who broke his leg while crossing for a try in the match against Central Newcastle at Toronto.
But former NRL star Daniel Abraham has emerged to fill the void, and showed his class in scoring a try and providing poise and punch for Macquarie in their 33-26 win over defending premiers South Newcastle at Townson Oval on Sunday.
It was the second win over Souths in as many weeks; the rain-deferred match followed last week’s clash between the same two teams, which Macquarie won 22-16.
Both wins continued the Scorpions’ knack in 2017 of finding a way to win the tight matches.
It’s evidence of the sort of resilience and self-belief that Macquarie will need plenty of against Wests on Sunday.
There’s still six or seven games to go, so there’s plenty of time.
Macquarie five-eighth Scott Briggs dominated Souths, contributing 17 points from a try, six goals, and a field goal.
Elusive fullback Mitchell Manson scored twice for Macquarie, while Abraham barged over for their opening four-pointer.
Powerful winger Ofa Manuofetoa grabbed a double for the home team, and five-eighth Ryan Glanville, hooker Liam Higgins and fullback Lachlan Walmsley also picked up tries.
The loss left Souths clinging to fifth place, and facing a tough game against Lakes United on Sunday.
Souths coach Ben Cross told Fairfax Media his message to the players after the second loss to Macquarie would be to “stay patient”.
“There’s still six or seven games to go, so there’s plenty of time,’’ he said.
“The players are saying the right things. I know they’re doing all the right things at training. We made a few uncharacteristic errors today, but it’s going to click eventually, and it has done previously.”