Wyong Roos v Newcastle Knights: Central Coast Showdown
(Pirtek Stadium, Sunday 27 September, 4pm)
Cinderella turnaround or redemption?
In a dramatic finish to a thrilling season featuring plenty of twists and turns, it’s the ultimate storyline as the Wyong Roos and Newcastle Knights fight for the VB NSW Cup Grand Final this Sunday at Pirtek Stadium.
It’s the Wyong Roos’ maiden VB NSW Cup Grand Final appearance since finishing dead last in their inaugural season in 2013, while the Newcastle Knights are out to avenge last year’s bitterly disappointing 48-12 Grand Final loss to the Penrith Panthers.
The Central Coast element between the Roos and the Knights adds extra spice into the contest, along with some of the young spectacular talents on show, including Jake Mamo, Tyler Cornish, Jaelen Feeney, Omar Slaimankhel and Danny Levi.
The Knights were sitting on the fringe of the top eight towards the back end of the season, and were at one point struggling to make the playoffs let alone appear in a Grand Final.
“It’s a wonderful achievement by the boys, if you had have said 10 weeks ago that you would be playing in a Grand Final, you’d be saying we’re kidding ourselves,” said Knights coach Matt Lantry.
“Everyone has played their part. Momentum is a funny thing at this time of year, and it’s about being healthy and we’ve got players back at the right time and here we are come Sunday.”
The Knights’ road to the Grand Final thus far has included a week one 45-6 thumping of the Sea Eagles, an impressive 44-12 win over the defending premiers, and a tense 30-26 victory over Mounties just last week.
While there’s still 80 minutes to go, Roos coach Rip Taylor is equally pleased with his team’s effort to make the Grand Final, which came after a stellar second half of the season.
“Well I guess it’s the old saying, but if you’re still playing football and still turning up to training at this time of year, then it’s been a good year,” said Taylor.
“It’s very satisfying. I’m rapt for the 10 months of hard work the boys have put in, so hopefully they can get the cookies.”
After defeating the Knights in both of their clashes this year (18-6 in round three and 28-26 in round 19), the Roos have reason to be confident.
However, Taylor remains aware of the attacking prowess possessed by the Knights who are in blistering form, and knows shutting down key in-form players such as Feeney, Mamo and Levi will go a long way to coming away with the premiership.
“I think they’ve scored over 120 odd points in their last three games of the finals, so the Knights don’t have a problem with attack. We obviously need to shut a few of their key players down if possible,” said Taylor.
“That will all stem around defence and hopefully we bring the right attitude for that.”
The Roos have been one of the heavyweight contenders this season, and alike the Knights, have certain key players that need to be contained.
However, Grand Final week is a rare occurrence in the life of a footballer or a coach, and Lantry is taking a loose approach into the eagerly anticipated clash.
“I think you have to [enjoy the week]. At the end of the day I think that’s been a strong point of ours right from week one within the semis, just keeping a nice relaxed environment. Even on the weekend - sudden death footy, we knew what was on the line, the team was still relaxed and really just that mental approach of we know what we need to do,” said Lantry.
“It’s about an 80 minute effort so there won’t be too much that happens this week, [but we will] ensure that we’re fresh and ready come Sunday.”
For those players just starting their career, the VB NSW Cup Grand Final is their opportunity to step up and showcase their talent. For players nearing the end of long and celebrated careers, it’s a final chance to be part of premiership glory.
It’s all on the line as two fierce local rivals go head to head in the VB NSW Cup Grand Final this Sunday, 27 September at Pirtek Stadium.
The NSWRL Grand Final day, held at Pirtek Stadium on Sunday, September 27, is the biggest day on the VB NSW Cup, Ron Massey Cup and Sydney Shield calendars and the only live rugby league in Sydney that weekend – and adult tickets are just $10, with kids under 12 free! With face painting, live music and a carnival-like atmosphere, it’s the perfect day out for young and old.Get your tickets here.