Club: Wyong Roos
Record: 13-11 (-50)
Players Used in 2014: 32
Season Highlight: Winning their last five regular season matches to qualify for the finals in just their second season
Season Lowlight: Losing three straight home matches mid-season against Illawarra, Newtown and Cronulla by a combined 112-24
Summary: In some ways it was a truly remarkable season for the Central Coast based outfit, yet with that said, it could have quite easily been even better.
Following the departure of Paul Stringer last off-season, club legend Rip Taylor took over the reins of this proud club and despite an indifferent start to the season, the Roos played some irresistible football late in the year to secure a maiden finals campaign.
A first up home loss to the eventual wooden spooners in North Sydney was not an ideal start to the year however the Roos bounced back the very next week and knocked over the Panthers in a display that showed just what they were capable of.
The Roos would continue to mix their form over the following couple of months however the sudden departure of Darren Nicholls (Brisbane Broncos) saw the club hit a flat spot and fall a few points off the pace of the top eight.
Eventually though the club would welcome a number of mid-season recruits including Mark Kheirallah, Jono Ford, Levi Pulu, Eloni Vunakece and Zane Tetevano, and off the back of this, they once again found their way and finished the season with a withering burst.
It was perhaps a masterstroke by Taylor, or just dumb luck, but either way, the shift of Kheirallah from the halves to fullback seemed to be the catalyst for the clubs late season finals surge, and with the likes of O’Meley and Stromquist leading from the front, the Roos played some irrepressible football.
Both Mitch Williams and Magnus Stromquist earned selection in the 2014 VB NSW Cup Team of the Year, but it was perhaps Stromquist who shone the brightest for the club. Stromquist played, and started in each of the clubs 26 matches (including finals) in 2014 and led the league in metres gained and hit ups as well as figuring in the top ten for tackles.
In addition to all of the players mentioned above, others to have featured during the clubs charge towards the finals was young Damon Goolagong, who has since signed to play Holden Cup with the South Sydney Rabbitohs in 2015 and also Tekina Vailea who took his game to another level after joining the club from the Penrith Panthers.
As noted at the top of the article, the Roos only used 32 players during the 2014 season which was a competition low and this was certainly a factor in their ability to gel as a unit while a number of more fancied sides in the competition struggled with injuries and fresh faces coming in and out of their side on any given week.
The Roos had a tendency to win by little or lose by a lot and this was reflected by their for and against at the end of the season. The Roos were the only side to finish in the top eight that had a negative for and against. Even the ninth placed Sharks had a positive for and against while the tenth placed Jets had an almost identical for and against as the Roos. The Roos average losing margin in 2014 was 19 points while their average winning margin was just 12 points and that average was significantly boosted late in the season during their unbeaten run into the finals.
So what do all the numbers above tell you about them? That they were a gritty unit who punched largely above their weight for the most part and generally won the close games when it mattered.
Rip Taylor did a masterful job with a limited roster in 2014 and given the announcement late in the year that the Roosters would be aligning themselves with the Roos from 2015 and beyond, the sky is the limit for Wyong moving forward.
Conclusion: A great season by most measurements capped off by a week one finals win against the Tigers. Look out for the Roos to be even better in 2015.