FRONTING UP: Ben Tupou hits the ball up for Souths against Macquarie at Peacock Field yesterday. Picture: Simone De PeakONLY Western Suburbs stand between Souths and their first Newcastle Rugby League grand final in 15 years after the Lions edged Macquarie 32-24 in the qualifying final at Peacock Field yesterday.
杭州桑拿

Tries to Jake Lawrence and Dane Queenan in the final nine minutes got Souths over the line in a physical clash.

The Lions will face arch rivals Wests at Harker Oval on Sunday in the major semi-final. The winner will secure the first spot in the September 22 grand final.

Macquarie’s season will go on the line in the minor semi-final against the Bulldogs at Kurri Kurri Sportsground on Saturday.

Not since 1998, when Souths were belted 51-14 by the Rosellas, have the Merewether boys featured on the league’s biggest day.

“Our football was bad and we need to improve,” Souths coach Adam Bettridge said.

“If we play like that against Wests, they’ll beat us by 60.

“We’ve really got to improve and work hard at training, but we’re there and we’ve given ourselves a chance.

“There’s a lot of pride in that shed and we have a chance now to create a bit of history with Souths having not made a grand final in a while.”

The victory was the Lions’ fourth straight, all against top-four clubs.

Meanwhile, the Scorpions’ terrific season is collapsing.

Yesterday’s loss was the Toronto club’s fourth in five weeks and key players fullback Nathan Cantor and halfback Mick Moran both picked up ankle injuries.

Macquarie dominated for most of the match and led 12-10 at half-time and 24-16 after 51 minutes before the Lions’ revival.

Errors proved costly for Macquarie. Trent Hawes’s high shot and subsequent penalty led to a Lewis Schnieder try to cut the Scorpions’ lead to 24-20 in the 58th minute.

Then 12 minutes later Macquarie winger Matt Hay knocked on 40 metres out.

Off the next set, Souths captain Matt Shipway slipped a pass to Lawrence for the Lions to steal the lead.

After their inept performance against Wests, the Scorpions forwards were back to their bruising best.

“It was a massive improvement on last week, absolutely massive, because Souths are flying and playing some good footy,” Macquarie coach Noel Dent said.

“We had it won three times. Mistakes, a high shot and dropping the ball when you have momentum cost us.

“Overall, except for the fact we’re now playing sudden-death footy, I’m pretty happy as they really tried.”

A brave Kurri caused a 23-16 upset on Saturday against the Goannas at Cessnock in the elimination final.

The result ended Cessnock favourite son Todd Edwards’s stint at the club.

In five seasons in charge it was the first time Edwards has failed to guide the Goannas to a grand final, and it ended his search for that elusive premiership.

“It would have been nice to finally do it, as it’s what we all strive for,” Edwards said.

“We just weren’t good enough, and what we dished up wasn’t acceptable and we got punished for it, which is what we deserved.”

Player unrest plagued Cessnock’s campaign.

“It’s just disappointing considering the group we had,” Edwards said. “I wouldn’t be doing the job even if I was around next year as I need to move on.”

Edwards has a verbal agreement to coach the Knights SG Ball side next year and is keen to mentor the Cessnock under 18s, who will feature his son Lachlan.

The Bulldogs’ victory over the Goannas was particularly impressive given their disrupted preparation.

Five-eighth Mark Khierallah returned to France last week and captain-coach George Ndaira was out with a dislocated shoulder.

The players also had to deal with the news that the board had dispensed with Ndaira for next season in favour of Phil Williams.

“There’s a really good feeling among the players at the moment,” Bulldogs fullback Nathan Ross said.

“When the odds are against us, nobody is turning on each other. The boys are building each other up.”

Action from the South Newcastle vs Macquarie Scorpions Real NRL game at Peacock Field Toronto. Souths defeated Macquarie 32-24. Picture Simone De Peak

Action from the South Newcastle vs Macquarie Scorpions Real NRL game at Peacock Field Toronto. Souths defeated Macquarie 32-24. Picture Simone De Peak

Action from the South Newcastle vs Macquarie Scorpions Real NRL game at Peacock Field Toronto. Souths defeated Macquarie 32-24. Picture Simone De Peak

Action from the South Newcastle vs Macquarie Scorpions Real NRL game at Peacock Field Toronto. Souths defeated Macquarie 32-24. Picture Simone De Peak

Action from the South Newcastle vs Macquarie Scorpions Real NRL game at Peacock Field Toronto. Souths defeated Macquarie 32-24. Picture Simone De Peak

Action from the South Newcastle vs Macquarie Scorpions Real NRL game at Peacock Field Toronto. Souths defeated Macquarie 32-24. Picture Simone De Peak

Action from the South Newcastle vs Macquarie Scorpions Real NRL game at Peacock Field Toronto. Souths defeated Macquarie 32-24. Picture Simone De Peak

Action from the South Newcastle vs Macquarie Scorpions Real NRL game at Peacock Field Toronto. Souths defeated Macquarie 32-24. Picture Simone De Peak

Action from the South Newcastle vs Macquarie Scorpions Real NRL game at Peacock Field Toronto. Souths defeated Macquarie 32-24. Picture Simone De Peak

Action from the South Newcastle vs Macquarie Scorpions Real NRL game at Peacock Field Toronto. Souths defeated Macquarie 32-24. Picture Simone De Peak

Action from the South Newcastle vs Macquarie Scorpions Real NRL game at Peacock Field Toronto. Souths defeated Macquarie 32-24. Picture Simone De Peak

Action from the South Newcastle vs Macquarie Scorpions Real NRL game at Peacock Field Toronto. Souths defeated Macquarie 32-24. Picture Simone De Peak

Action from the South Newcastle vs Macquarie Scorpions Real NRL game at Peacock Field Toronto. Souths defeated Macquarie 32-24. Picture Simone De Peak

Action from the South Newcastle vs Macquarie Scorpions Real NRL game at Peacock Field Toronto. Souths defeated Macquarie 32-24. Picture Simone De Peak