SEASON REVIEW | Wyong Roos
It was an incredible turn of events for the Wyong Roos after winning just two of their first 10 games of the 2018 season, but a late-season surge saw them storm into eighth position to cement another finals berth.
The old cliché of a 'tale of two halves' has no greater relevance than that of Rip Taylor's men, with their vastly improved efforts in the second half of the season not only showing an abundance of character, but also their true quality.
Led by veteran Mitch Williams, the Roos would progress no further than the second week of the finals, but a fine achievement considering they were running second last halfway through the year.
Their clash against the Western Suburbs Magpies in the Elimination Final will be remembered as one of the great Intrust Super Premiership fixtures – an extra time thriller that saw the Roos claim an incredible 18-14 victory.
Through the likes of Williams, Mitch Cornish and Luke Sharpe, their attack proved to be their greatest asset – scoring at least four tries or more in all but one of their games since Round 9.
Defensively, however, they struggled as they averaged the most missed tackles of any team in the competition (38 per game), but somewhat resonated the defensive efforts of the Sydney Roosters with some stronger efforts later in the season.
The 2018 season may have not reached the heights of their success last year, but a strong finish for a proud club that played their last season in the Intrust Super Premiership.
The Key Number
Wyong Roos finished atop the ISP ladder in 2017 with a formidable win/loss record, returning 38 points to claim the Minor Premiership at the end of 25 rounds.
Their form in the second half of the 2018 season showed what could have been if they were able to claim a top-four spot with a few more wins to start the year, but their defensive efforts quickly became their weakness despite their improved efforts.
In attack, they were just as potent as any side in the competition on their day, but couldn't build the formidable defensive defence that helped them to the 2017 Grand Final.
The Rising Star
There were a vast array of young players who made their mark for the Wyong Roos in the Intrust Super Premiership this season but we can't look past Sitili Tupouniua after his stellar success in 2018.
As one of the most consistent performers for the Roos, Tupouniua's fighting nature earned a strong reputation among his peers, with his strong skills with the ball in hand matched with his hard-working efforts in defence.
He earned a first grade debut for the Roosters in their Round 16 loss to the Melbourne Storm, before capping off the breakout year with selection in the Intrust Super Premiership Team of the Year.
Room For Improvement
There were countless occasions where Wyong could very well have claimed valuable wins with seven of their games being decided by two points or less – those fixtures including two draws, two wins and three losses.
It's certainly a case of what could have been for a side that boasts plenty of attacking flair, but they will rue those losses in tight contests that could have well and truly set them on a different path.
How It Will Be Remembered
The Roos will look back on their 2018 campaign and look at it as one that had the potential to be something special, but unfortunately it wasn't to be for a side that was no short of character and desire.
There were plenty of positives to take out of the season following their dynamic unbeaten run throughout the year, but while it wasn't an ideal way to exit the Intrust Super Premiership competition, they leave with the feeling of giving it everything they possibly had.