It was never a promising season for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.
Matthew Gallagher looks at h...
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Minor Premiers and team of young guns do battle for Premiership glory!
The Grand Final of the NSW Intrust Super Premiership is upon us with Sunday's venue of Leichhardt the battle ground for two teams that have worked extremely hard to get here.
The Wyong Roos hung on 16-12 last week to defeat the NZ Warriors with superb goal line defence the main feature of its victory. Having been the most consistent team through the preliminary rounds, there was a sigh of relief up the M1 as they made it through to the Grand Final. With an experienced team choc-a-bloc full of NRL experience, the Roos will be hoping that steers it through to a historic Premiership. No doubt veteran coach Rip Taylor will have his side prepared and ready for a cracking contest on Sunday.
Penrith also progressed through by the tune of 16-12 last week and also had to rely on its defence to deny Canterbury a last minute win. The Panthers finished the regular season in 3rd place and dispatched the Warriors in week one to earn a week off. They have a side full of young and talented players who have tasted success at SG Ball and Holden Cup level. Led by experience playmakers Darren Nicholls and Mitch Rein, the mountain men will fancy their chances on Sunday having stretched the Roos in the past. They belted them 32-10 in round four before narrowly losing 24-22 later in the season in the return match.
The Roos got the points on the last occasion after a Matt Ikavalu double in the last four minutes stole victory from the Panthers who had led 22-12. Penrith won the earlier contest 32-10 out at Penrith. How will match three fare between these two sides?
Who To Watch: For Wyong, keep close attention on centre Joey Manu. A Under 20's rep with the Roosters and first grader Manu showed his class last week by scoring two tries and looking unstoppable on the left edge. Even the big bodied Warriors side struggled to tackle him. He has a superb fend and great upper body strength which makes him hard to pull down. His offload is just as valuable and can open up room for his outside men especially if Manu has attracted a few opposition defenders. Penrith need to shut him down if they want success on Sunday.
The Panthers star man has to be hooker Mitch Rein, he was superb last week both defensively and with ball and hand and was one of the reasons the Panthers got the win. Look for him to try and find room around the ruck and isolate some of the Wyong big men as they get fatigued. He also has a very handy kicking game, especially close to the line and could be used to surprise the Roos at some time on Sunday.
The Tip: Wyong for me in this clash. They have been super consistent all year and have the forward pack and class out in the backs to win this match. Will be an intense battle but think Wyong will run away with it in the final 30. Wyong by 14.