The Intrust Super Premiership NSW has reached its finale; the Wyong Roos and Penrith Panthers will battle it out at Leichhardt Oval this Sunday for the 2017 title. That result came via two closely-fought affairs at the same venue last Sunday afternoon, with both victors displaying some impressive form ahead of the decider.
The double-header kicked off with the Roos defeating the Warriors, which undoubtedly came off the back of their defence. Wyong and the Warriors had already enjoyed two close games this season – the Roos won their first battle by just three points, before drawing with the Warriors in Round 24 – and the preliminary final was no different, with Rip Taylor’s men managing to hold on against a New Zealand side which was reduced to 12 men for most of the final stages.
Indeed, the Roos made more tackles than any other side on Sunday (354), but they made life difficult with 17 errors – incredibly, that’s the most of any side this season. Their 43 missed tackles are also a slight worry and while they were lucky the Warriors made just as many on Sunday, Penrith’s 29 misses indicate a difference in defensive success last weekend.
As mentioned, Wyong’s ability to sustain pressure late in the game will be pleasing ahead of the grand final, as well as their effectiveness in attack; despite having 48 per cent of possession, the Roos ran just nine metres fewer than the Warriors (1,491) and made four line-breaks to their opposition’s two.
Possession and defence were relatively even between the Panthers and Bulldogs in Sunday’s second match, but Penrith’s dominance with the ball ultimately paid dividends. Garth Brennan’s side made just four runs throughout the 80 minutes but achieved 282 more metres than the Bulldogs – and 282 more than the Roos earlier in the afternoon. They broke the line four times to Canterbury-Bankstown’s two, but a lopsided penalty count (13 for the Bulldogs, three for the Panthers) kept the sides close on the scoreboard for much of the game. Importantly, so did Darren Nicholls’ four missed conversions from as many attempts; despite scoring twice as many tries the Panthers were at risk of losing the game at the death, and Nicholls will hope to strike them better this Sunday.
View the full stats reports from each of the games below.