The tightest VB NSW Cup campaign in years ended with an extraordinarily climatic conclusion – Mounties taking out the minor premiership by a single for-and-against point.
The Wyong Roos' 44-12 defeat of Wentworthville meant that Mounties were required to overthrow the Warriors by 26 points or more to finish the season as outright leaders, and they just scraped through with a 36-10 victory.
In what is a wonderful achievement for the club, Mounties also secured the minor premiership in the Ron Massey Cup – by a whopping eight competition points.
Mounties VB NSW Cup coach Steve Antonelli understood the great achievement from a club perspective to secure their maiden minor premiership, but insists there was no talk of the 26-point margin before kickoff last Saturday.
“There was no mention about the minor premiership [before the match],” explained Antonelli.
“It’s a good achievement, first time for Mounties to be minor premiers in NSW Cup, and also minor premiers in Ron Massey Cup. The club is strong at the moment.”
Mounties got off to a perfect start to the year, winning their opening seven games while amassing 189 points during this period.
They then hit a flat patch in the middle of the season, only winning two games from their next nine matches – before a strong finish at the back end of the year allowed them to build momentum heading into the finals series.
“We started off well, just being consistent and [having a positive] mental attitude. If they mentally turn up right, you’re halfway there to winning,” said Antonelli.
“We just hit a bit of a lull through the year, we lost a couple of players to the NRL, a few injuries. You can never expect them to be up every week, I knew there would be a time that that’s going to happen, so I’m happy it was halfway during the year.”
Finishing the season in the top four, let alone in pole position gives Mounties the advantage of a week off if they can beat the Warriors this Saturday, or the benefit of a second chance should they lose.
They have every chance to be there on Grand Final day in a competition that is still incredibly wide open – and Antonelli believes it is up to his tight-knit group of players to reach their capabilities and make a dent in the 2015 VB NSW Cup Finals Series.
“The focus to go all the way is about the players. I’ve got a lot of blokes who are not there next year, moving on to other clubs.
“We’ve created a bit of a culture that it’s about us as a team, and you don’t get many chances to play semi finals in second-tier type footy so it’s a big thing for them.”