The Macquarie Scorpions suffered their first loss of the Newcastle rugby league season when defeated 34-20 by Maitland at Toronto on Saturday.
The Scopions had five key players out due to injury, but coach Adam Bettridge insists that was not the reason for the loss.
“We had a number of injuries with Andy Sumner, Todd Hurrell, Kyle Eather, Kelly Benson and Tye Alchin being out injured, but we cannot use that as an excuse,” Bettridge said.
“We were out-enthused early on, and made far too many errors to win the game which was very disappointing as we know that we can beat anyone in the competition when we play well.”
The Scorpions started poorly and trailed 12-nil after gifting Maitland two tries from errors in the first 15 minutes.
The Scorpions regrouped momentarily, and with 10 minutes to go before halftime Daniel Abraham broke into the back field and offloaded for fullback Matt Simon to score the first of his two tries.
But just as Macquarie seemed to be wresting momentum, they conceded possession, and allowed Maitland one last opportunity before oranges. The visitors accepted the invitation, scored a converted try in the corner, and took an 18-6 lead into the sheds at halftime.
Maitland took control in the second stanza to lead 34-10 at one stage, before the Scorpions hit back with two tries.
Bettridge said he was disappointed with the performance from the Scorpions, particularly considering the commitment the team had shown in the two previous weeks, in gutsy wins against Central Newcastle and South Newcastle.
“We have this week off which will give us an opportunity to regroup before we play Kurri Bulldogs, at Kurri,” Bettridge said.
“I am also hopeful that Benson, Hurrell and Alchin will be available, but unfortunately Kyle Eather is out for the season with a serious knee injury and Andy Sumner is out for a further six weeks – at least – with a broken arm.
“So our depth will be tested, not just in first grade but throughout the club. It will be tough up at Kurri, but I am confident we can get the win and stay at the top of the competition ladder.”
Macquarie retained a share of the competition lead, as the previously unbeaten Bulldogs also suffered their first loss – a 26-16 defeat to Central on Satruday.