Time to look ahead to Sunday's decider! Rob Crosby has a full look at both teams and what to expect ...
38 hours ago
Balmain celebrated resounding victories in both the NSWRL matches played at Leichhardt oval today with Premier League Defeating the Knights and Jersey Flegg downing North Sydney entrenching positions in the top 4 for both grades.
In Jersey Flegg North Sydney were the first to score in just the second minute when halfback James Maloney kicked a penalty goal from in front of the posts however just three minutes later Balmain took the lead when Winger Jono Freeman dived on a Dean Caldwell chop kick and Mark Russell converted and from that moment on Balmain never looked like losing the match.
Ten minutes later Dean Jamison dived over from dummy half and soon after lock Jarrad Farlow put fullback Dean McGrath into space and McGrath ran 50m to score under the posts. Russell converted bringing the tigers to a 16-2 lead.
There was plenty of drama to follow when Norths back rower Arnold Mano found himself sent to the bin after rushing across the field to join in a fight and just minutes later he was followed by teammates Daniel Phillips after continued infringements and captain Maloney for backchat.
Down to ten men it was almost inevitable that Norths would concede points and right on halftime Balmain centre Gavin Cowen beat two defenders to score under the posts. Russell added the extras and the teams went into halftime with Balmain ahead by twenty-two points to two.
Soon after halftime back rower Griffen barged over on the last tackle and Russell converted from the sideline putting the tigers ahead 28-2 as the binned Norths players returned to the field.
In the 42nd minute Norths scored their sole try of the match when Jason Saliba exploited some poor Balmain defence and crossed untouched from dummy half but any hopes they may have had of launching a comeback were crushed just five minutes later when Balmain centre Robert Chauvet ran 45m to score and Russell converted.
Balmain scored their final try of the match with just a minute to go when winger Chance Bunce stepped past the tired norths defence and raced 60m to score under the posts. Russell converted and at fulltime Balmain ran out winners by forty points to eight.
Best for the tigers were halfback Russell, back rowers Stanfield and Griffen and Lock Farlow while halves Baird and Maloney and prop Tupo Peaua looked dangerous for the bears.
In Premier League Balmain were the first to cross the line in the 4rh minute when 5/8th Jono Rolfe put centre Keith Eshman into space and Ben Reynolds converted.
Twelve minutes later Lock Sam Harris picked up the ball from the scrum and ran with it, passing to Reynolds who offloaded to winger Tuiaki to score untouched under the posts. Minutes later Harris again broke the line and offloaded to Rolfe who ran ten metres with the ball before kicking for fullback Shannon McDonnell who scored about 20m out from the sideline. Yet another try followed immediately after when the knights players fumbled a Rolfe bomb and winger Michael Crockett picked up the ball to score beside the posts. Reynolds was unable to convert putting Balmain ahead by twenty points to nil after just 22 minutes of game time.
Balmain scored again in the 28th minute when a Rangi Chase kick was picked up by Rolfe who passed on the inside to send Sam Moa racing 20m before carrying two defenders over the sideline. This was followed in the next set by a brilliant individual try to Shannon McDonnell who ran 30m to score under the posts and five minutes after that Corey Niwa crossed again after running 20m through a tired knights defence to score. Reynolds converted all three trys and Balmain ran out at halftime leading by 38 to nil.
Newcastle looked a much better side in the second half and fullback Nathan Hinton scored their first try of the match when he crossed out wide in the 43rd minute. Centre Brad Tighe was able to convert bringing the score to 38-6. The knights backed up 11 minutes later when prop Kane Snowden barged through the defence and Tighe once again converted.
It didn?t take long for Balmain to once again stamp their authority on the match and four minutes later prop Stacy Katu dived on a Ben Reynolds kick and scored under the posts, Reynolds was unable to convert but with twenty minutes left to play Balmain held a commanding 42 points to 12 lead.
In the 67th minute Keith Galloway made a massive run and a quick play the ball saw Jamie Nowland take off from dummy half, pass to Reynolds who offloaded to Katu who raced 20m before offloading to Sam Harris who scored under the posts.
With six minutes left of game time Newcastle scored their final try of the match when Matt Kennedy barged over next to the posts and Tighe converted to bring the final score to Forty Eight points to eight.
Best for Balmain were lock Harris, 5/8th Rolfe and hooker Chase while McDonnell, Jeffrey, Katu and Metuisela also had strong games. For the knights centre Brad Tighe was the standout.