Macquarie only lost five games last season.
The year before it was exactly the same.
But the injury-riddled Scorpions have now matched that number midway through 2018 after going down to Western Suburbs 22-12 in Sunday’s grand-final replay at Cessnock.
After opening with three wins this round-eight result marked a fifth straight defeat for the title holders, their worst streak since bowing out of the 2013 finals series with six losses on the trot.
Making matters even worse for Macquarie, Adam Swadling (neck) and Daniel Abraham (pectoral) were the latest to join Macquarie’s growing casualty ward already occupied by halfback Andrew Sumner (broken arm – expected back next month) and fullback Kyle Eather (knee – out for the season).
Front-rower Swadling, injured during a tackle late in the transferred Newcastle Rugby League encounter, was put in a neck brace and transported by ambulance to hospital after full-time.
Scorpions coach Adam Bettridge was unsure about the extent of the damage, but said Swadling would be undergoing further scans.
“Hopefully he will be okay,” Bettridge said. “I’ll have to have another look at the tackle.”
Abraham left the field early in the second half and with Macquarie still in the contest.
“We haven’t had a good run [with injuries], but we’ve just got to keep turning up,” Bettridge said.
Macquarie remain in a share of last place with Cessnock on six competitions points, but are just two wins away from ladder-leaders Lakes (10), while Wests (8) move up into joint second spot with five others.
Bettridge is confident the Scorpions can turn their form slump around.
“We were a lot better today and that performance was something to build on,” he said. “Defensively we were much stronger, so there’s plenty to take out of it.”
Wests second-rower James Elias scored first for the Rosellas before Macquarie fullback Matt Simon regathered a Scott Briggs kick to help level proceedings at 6-all heading into the break.
Wests wingers Josh Allison and Willis Alatini registered back-to-back tries for a 10-point lead before Scorpions centre Kyle Smith nabbed an intercept and made it 16-12 with 20 minutes to go.
Elias landed the killer blow with his second four pointer in the closing stages.
“It was very evident we’d had a few weeks off,” Wests coach Matt Lantry said.
“We weren’t fluid, there wasn’t much cohesion and we made errors we generally wouldn’t make. We were happy to go in at 6-all.
“But we threw down the challenge at half-time and credit to the boys, they started back very strongly to get out to that lead. That really set it up for us.”
Elsewhere on Sunday and Malta, including four Hunter players, were beaten 30-24 by South Africa at St Mary’s Stadium.
LADDER: Lakes 10; Central, Maitland, Wests, Souths, Kurri, 8; Macquarie, Cessnock 6.
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