The Newcastle Knights became the 2015 VB NSW Cup champions after defeating Wyong Roos 20-10 in front of an ardent crowd at Pirtek Stadium last Sunday.
Finishing the regular season in seventh, the Knights stormed through the finals winning all four matches. First they went through Manly, then found redemption and demolished 2014 premiers Penrith. In the preliminary final the dream of a grand final appearance became a reality when they defeated minor premiers Mounties.
Newcastle flyer Honeti Tuha scored an impassioned hat-trick and made 148 vital metres with the ball. Wyong winger Abraham Papalii made an astonishing 250 metres for the match off 21 runs and Knights fullback Jake Mamo, who was sent to the sin bin for dissent, made 202 metres off 19 effective runs. Roos’ five-eighth Jono Ford was also told to sit down for 10 because he was a part of the scuffle.
The combination between Tuha and Kerrod Holland, who also scored a four-pointer and made 178 metres, proved deadly for Wyong as they just dominated that side of defence for most of the encounter.
Wearing the no.4 jumper for the Roos, Nathan Smith scored a double and that was the only points that Wyong could muster for the day.
Roos captain Mitch Williams has always been a leader for his team, and the inspirational skipper made 57 tackles and played the full 80 minutes in a never-say-die effort. Sam Mataora for the Knights made the most amount of tackles for his team with 33.
Errors were Wyong’s downfall - they made 15 and completed a well-below-average 57 per cent of their sets. Newcastle made 11 and completed at 69 per cent.
It was the Roos’ first grand final appearance since entering the competition in 2013, a year in which they finished last. They have had a great season only finishing one point behind minor premiers Mounties. They will likely be back bigger and better in 2016.
It has been a strange year for Newcastle as a club – in the NRL they finished with the wooden spoon and in the VB NSW Cup they claimed the top gong. The only club to do that in history, I believe, was Eastern Suburbs... in 1949!
Inspirational Knights skipper Clint Newton gets to play one more time tomorrow as he and his team come up against Queensland Cup winners, the unconventional Ipswich Jets, in the NRL State Championship ahead of the NRL Grand Final. Kick-off’s at 3:40pm – don’t miss it! Go the Knights... and NSW!