Ladder Leaders to Meet in Grand Final
The Illawarra Steelers and Newcastle Knights - who finished the regular season in 1st and 2nd respectively - will now meet in the Harvey Norman Tarsha Gale Cup decider after securing preliminary final wins on Saturday morning.
The Steelers kicked off first against the Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Stadium, with the home side scoring two early tries through Ally Beaufils and Emily Curtain to lead 8-0. The Steelers then hit back in the next 10 minutes through Maddison Weatherall and Teagan Barry to level the scores.
By the halfway mark, the Tigers scored three more quick-fire tries for the largest deficit of the match at 24-8. However, the last half hour saw the Steelers mount a comeback to earn a 34-24 victory.
The Newcastle Knights continued proceedings in another high scoring contest by defeating the St George Dragons 36-28 at St Marys Leagues Stadium.
Coming back from a two-try deficit, Jorja Holden opened the scoring for the Knights and finished the game with a hat-trick. Joeli Morris, Ashlee Russell, Olivia Kernick and Caitlan Johnston rounded out the try scorers for the away side to book a place in next week’s grand final.
Feagai Brothers Star in Preliminary Final Win
Illawarra Steelers pair, Mathew and Max Feagai, have shared the try scoring spoils on the way to a 26-22 win over the Parramatta Eels in the 1st preliminary final of the 2019 UNE SG Ball Cup.
The right-edge attacking duo were threatening from the outset with a try apiece in the opening 10 minutes for a 10-0 lead. By the 30-minute mark, the Eels fought their way back to 10-all with tries to Albert Etuati-Favaae and Viliame Penisini.
The Feagai brothers added two more four-pointers between them early in the secon- half. However, in a nail-biting final stanza the Eels responded through Samuel Hughes and Tyler Field, with consecutive Sean Russell conversions giving them a 22-20 lead for the first time in the contest.
Needing one try to win with two minutes remaining, Max Feagai found his way to the line again to cap off his hat-trick and seal a grand final spot for the Steelers.
In the 2nd preliminary final at Campbelltown Stadium, the Central Coast Roosters couldn’t hold out a fast finishing Manly-Warringah despite a Riley Meyn double and a 12-4 halftime lead. The Sea Eagles scored 20 unanswered points in the 2nd half to earn a 24-12 win and a meeting with Steelers in the 2019 UNE SG Ball Cup decider.
Glory awaits for top Defensive Teams
The Newcastle Knights (82 pts conceded) and Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (108 pts conceded) finished the regular season with the two best defensive records. Both sides will now face off at Bankwest Stadium for the UNE Harold Matthews Cup trophy after securing victory in their respective grand final qualifiers on Saturday afternoon.
The Knights earned the first spot in next week’s grand final with a 20-6 win over the Penrith Panthers at St Marys Leagues Stadium. The minor premiers scored the opening 2 tries of the match through winger Charlie Thompson and no. 13 Lachlan Crouch.
Winger Jecii Pritchard scored the sole try for the Panthers in the 23rd minute, bringing the halftime score to 10-6.
Mitchell Henderson got over try line just two minutes into the 2nd half to increase the deficit, while Thompson scored his 2nd try at the 56-minute mark in what was another solid defensive display from Newcastle.
In a very different contest, the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs earned a narrow yet high-scoring 36-30 win over a dangerous South Sydney outfit at Campbelltown Stadium.
Despite conceding a 2nd minute try to Rabbitohs fullback Joseph Suaalii, the Bulldogs scored 4 tries in 11 minutes, including an Iverson Teo double for a 22-6 lead. South Sydney brought the margin to 4 points at the break with tries to centre Luca Ace-Nasteski and second rower William Taliai.
With both sides scoring two converted tries in the 2nd half and a 59th minute penalty goal to Trieste Winitana, the Bulldogs were able hold on for a 6-point win.
Now that the Knights and Bulldogs are on a grand final collision course as the best defensive teams, and if the adage of ‘defence wins premierships’ is anything to go by, the two sides are sure to be in a for gritty affair.