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Windsor Wolves win Jim Beam Cup
In a match tagged as a battle for "redemption", the Windsor Wolves triumphed 36-16 over arch-rivals the Sydney Bulls at Campbelltown Stadium on Sunday to claim the 2008 Jim Beam Cup.
The win was bittersweet for the Wolves whose finals prospects appeared shattered two weeks ago after being humbled 62-12 by the Bulls in their major-semi final.
Wolves coach Trent Rosa applauded his team's toughness in a grand final that was played at the highest intensity.
"We always knew that the intentions for a physical game were going to be there early, it's a credit to our guys for sticking that out," Rosa said.
"We had a real good look at ourselves and dug deep, and just played for each other."
Any nerves were quashed in the opening seconds of the match when Bulls prop Charlie Farah was levelled in a bruising tackle from which he did not return to the field.
Unlike their encounter a fortnight ago, Windsor's intent was evident from the opening minutes when halfback Craig Trindall scooped up his own grubber kick to score the opening try.
Emotions began to spill over at the 10th minute; a scuffle erupting after Wolves winger Mitchell Smith performed a crunching hit on his opposite number.
When Wolves back-rower Jason Chan barged over minutes later Windsor were controlling the tempo and the scoreboard at 10-0.
A clever kick from Bulls lock Steve Jolly was pounced on by Mark Butler to get his side back into the contest.
However when an enthusiastic kick-chase from Windsor saw opposition winger Toucific Nicolas tossed over the sideline, Wolves fullback Joel Bennet sliced through from the ensuing scrum to stretch the margin to 16-4.
The Bulls woes were then compounded by poor discipline, piggy-backing Windsor into their own twenty-metre zone after they were penalized for a ruck infringement.
When winger Mitchell Smith burrowed over from dummy-half, the Bulls were reeling from a 22-4 deficit at the break.
The rampaging Bulls of old returned briefly in the second half with pivot Nathan Wynn splitting the Wolves defence to score after they conceded possession in their opening set.
Then centre Wes Naiqama crossed in the left-corner two minutes later the Bulls had shaved the deficit to six.
But hopes of a comeback were soon sedated when Tim Glasby jumped off the interchange bench and steamrolled four defenders on route to scoring a momentum-killing try under the posts.
From this point the minor premiers were never troubled, crossing once more in an amazing team try that featured seven sets of hands before back-rower Ashley Hazelton set-sail for the corner.
Two late field-goals from Trindall inflicted the final nails into the Bulls horns, who were unable to reverse their defeat to Windsor in the 2005 grand final.
Trindall also spoke of his team's desire to restore their pride after the match.
"After we beat Mounties we knew that we weren't going to get beaten (by Bulls) the way we did two weeks ago because it was embarrassing," Trindall said.
"We have spent two weeks thinking about that loss. The team we have aren't like that; we don't go out like that so to put in a big effort it was a great win."
For the Bulls, the loss leaves one of the most competitive outfits in the Jim Beam Cup with only one premiership despite competing in the last four grand finals.
A mortified Bulls coach David Bayssari paid respects to his Windsor opponents as he was left to ponder another grand final heartache.
"It was a tough game and I don't we think we recovered after the first 30 seconds," he said.
"We were playing catch-up football after the first twenty-minutes and Windsor were just too good for us today."
Windsor Wolves 36 (J Bennett, J Chan, T Glasby, A Hazelton, M Smith, C Trindall tries; C Trindall 5 goals, field goal) defeated Sydney Bulls 16 (M Butler, W Naiqama, N Wynn tries, N Wynn 2 goals).
Source: Christopher Boyd - NSWRL.com.au