Wests Tigers v Sea Eagles preview
3 hours ago | Tim Costello
Grand Final time is here for the Intrust Super Premiership and it's a blue and white that will steal the show at Leichhardt Oval with the Newtown Jets taking on the Canterbury Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon.
The Jets could be seen as fortunate to make the Grand Final with a 28-24 victory over minor premiers the Panthers, with Penrith reflecting on having been disallowed what seemed a fair try. Newtown were impressive against the Panthers with their defence standing up strong against one of the best attacking sides in the competition. Up against it early on, with Penrith getting on top in the opening stages and the Jets looked to have gone 10-0 down but a forward pass called denied the Panthers and the boys in blue were able to get back level and gain the ascendency. The Bluebags only trailed once more in the game and then were able to consistently hold out the Penrith Panthers repeated efforts and take the 28-24 victory.
The road to the finals for the Jets wasn't as smooth as they would've liked, with a first week defeat coming at the hands of the Dragons, conceding a late try. The inner-west side then stamped their class on the finals series when they outplayed Mounties in a 34-18 win before the victory over the Panthers. In Season 2018, Newtown were the best attacking side in the competition, where they scored 695 points for the regular season with another 88 points across three games in the finals. The attack of the Jets will be vital if they want to get through a solid Bulldogs defensive line.
A side not spoken about too often as potential Grand Finalists, Canterbury have had a good season and it was topped by a tough win 28-26 victory over St George Illawarra in last weekend's preliminary final. The game was unusual as the Dragons had actually scored five tries compared with the Bulldogs four, but the advantage for the 'Dogs was that they possessed the goalkicking ability of Rhyse Martin, who not only kicked all four conversions but also two penalty goals which was the difference in the end. They opened up a 14-point lead towards the end of the game against the Dragons however a late charge from the Red V made things nervous for Canterbury - but they held on for a 28-26 win.
Like the Jets, the Bulldogs actually tasted defeat in the first week of the finals when they fell to a tough 28-18 defeat against Penrith . They welcomed back a number of NRL-listed players which was a boost when they defeated Wyong in week two. Canterbury have been the quiet achievers of the competition but they have been a team full of attacking go-forward, leading in post-contact metres, total running metres and total runs stats for the season. The Belmore based side however were also one of the worst defensive sides in the competition with 936 missed tackles for the season along with a whopping 400 ineffective tackles.
Players To Watch: William Kennedy - The lively fullback has been a try scoring machine for the Jets in 2018 with 14 tries from his 24 games. One of the few players to yet taste NRL football, Kennedy has staked a claim for a spot the Sharks with his speed and ability. Kennedy has made 24 appearances for the Jets this season and along with his 14 tries he has notched up 15 try assists along with the 60 tackle breaks and 12 line breaks. The Jets will be hoping Kennedy can bring out one of his best performances to help them to victory on Sunday afternoon.
Nu Brown - A former Newtown Jet, Fa'amanu Brown has been a regular in the Bulldogs side this year with 15 appearances. The Samoan international has spent most of the season at hooker including the two previous matches, however with Matt Frawley out of the side, Brown has been moved into the halfback role where he has played 5 games this season. The impressive stat of Brown's year is the fact he has scored nine tries this season as well as six try assists. The performance of Brown at halfback will be a key factor to see how the Bulldogs can get through the Jets defence.
Tip: The key for this game will be how both sides start the clash, there is no doubt that both these sides can attack strongly although it will be a case of which side can defend the best. The concern will be that the Bulldogs have conceded over 20 points in each of their final's games. The Jets have the experience and will be backed home by a huge fan base which should get them home in a close one. Expectations are of a high scoring clash but Newtown should do enough to win the 2018 Intrust Super Premiership title. Jets by 8.