Strap yourself in for a bumper weekend on NSWRL TV with the Finals of the SLE Andrew Johns Cup, SLE Laurie Daley Cup, Men's Country Championships and Junior Reps Round Eight on Saturday, along with Round Three of The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup on Sunday, and a Harvey Norman Women's Premiership match on Monday.
The action begins at 10am with the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks v Wests Tigers Tarsha Gale match at Pointsbet Stadium, followed by the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks v Western Suburbs Magpies match-ups in Harold Matts at 12pm and SG Ball at 2pm.
NSWRL TV will be live streaming from H.E. Laybutt Field in Blacktown for the Regional Representative Finals, starting at 11am with the Johns Cup match between the Central Coast Roosters and Illawarra South Coast Dragons. The Daley Cup game between Central Coast Roosters and Northern Tigers Daley Cup will follow at 12:40pm, while the Men’s Country Championship match between Monaro Colts and Illawarra South Coast Dragons at 2.30pm will finish off the big day of action.
SLE Andrew Johns Cup
The Central Coast Roosters enter the Grand Final with an undefeated record, as do their opponents Illawarra South Coast Dragons.
Roosters coach Jack Ellison has been impressed with the 25-man squad after they adapted well to training and worked hard all season but he will be looking to a few of his standouts to step up and lead the side on Saturday.
“Our captain James Miller is hugely impressive, not just on the field but off it as well – you’d be hard pressed to find a better leader than him at 16,” Ellison said.
“Jake Elliott is one of the classiest junior footballers I’ve ever seen in the backrow, he’s all class, he doesn’t seem to sweat whether it be at the training or the game, he just does it all really comfortably.
“Then we’ve get a lot of hard work out of our starting front rowers Kyan Parker and Atticus Fotofili - they both lay a really good platform.
“The whole team has trust in the coaching staff and then we trust them to do it on game day, so it’s been pretty smooth sailing.”
The Illawarra South Coast side beat North Coast by two points and then kept them scoreless with a 22-0 victory in the Semi-Finals two weeks later.
Coach Aaron Hertsch was impressed with the way they improved and completed their effort areas and is hopeful they can do the same again this weekend.
“I found the most pleasing part about coaching this team is their attitude, they’re really willing to learn, they all turn up to work hard at training and they’re just really easy to coach,” Hertsch said.
“Central Coast are a strong team, I’ve watched a fair bit of video on them.
“They’re really well drilled but I think if we really concentrate on our effort areas again, completing our sets and just doing what we do, we’ll give ourselves every opportunity to beat them.”
SLE Laurie Daley Cup
The Northern Tigers were in fourth position on the ladder before being beaten by Western Rams in Round Five but regrouped to turn the tables on them in the Semi-Finals a week later and now set up a showdown with an undefeated Roosters side tomorrow.
“You always plan to get to this game but to get there is a great achievement for the boys,” coach Darryl Rando said.
“We’re a team that relies on everyone playing well but Mark Simon has been outstanding in the front row, he has played nearly a full game every week.
“He’s the glue of the forward pack, he’s always there to make a run or a tackle and fullback Mitch Henderson and Harry Reid our hooker have also been good.
“Other than that, it’s just a big team effort, we’re only going to be as good as we are if everyone puts in an effort.
“I’m just looking to see them enjoy their footy and have fun, we’re all in it together, the rest will take care of itself and if we’re good enough, we’ll be there.”
Central Coast coach Ryan Southam is “stoked” to have his side in the Grand Final and believes their closeness and willingness to work for each other will get them over the line on the weekend.
“Their will to put in for each other is their best asset, they’re a very tight bunch and that shows in their defensive attitude,” Southam said.
“We’ve been the better defensive side out of the whole comp and that’s an attitude thing.”
Men’s Country Championships
Illawarra coach Wade Forrester has been in this position before, after coaching his side to the title in 2019 over Monaro when it was the Men’s Under 23s age group but Forrester says this weekend will be very different.
“Open age you are playing with guys who are a lot more mature, have been around a lot longer and are more experienced, so we’ve certainly had to earn our stripes,” Forrester said.
“Early on I found it different coaching this age group because you are dealing with players who are either captain/coaches or been captain/coaches before and things of that nature.
“From the first game where I was bitterly disappointed to where we are now it’s been quite a remarkable turnaround and we’ve improved every game/
“I said to the guys last weekend that we’re going to have to be this good and better again to at least have a chance to win this championship.”
The side will include players who were part of the 2019 Championship-winning team like 2019 Country Player of the Year Cameron Vazzoler and Juvilee Samiu
“It’s certainly a bonus that they understand the type of game that’s needed to be played, they’ve played in a Championship game and know the feeling so it definitely helps,” Forrester said.
“The guys now have the opportunity to win it which after the first game we didn’t think we would have.”
Monaro coach Terry Campese, who has over 150 Rugby League games to his name, wasn’t expecting to lace up the boots for the Colts but when the side was low on troops in Round Two he stepped up the plate.
“Instead of bringing a player into the squad late it was discussed within the staff that it was best that I run around,” Campese said.
“The plan for me was not to play the next game but a few of the players rang me up and asked if I would consider it because they enjoyed playing beside me so that was the thing that got me across the line to play again.”
The experienced playmaker believes changing the age group from Under 23s to Open Age has created more opportunities for those older players that are looking to make an impact.
“The exciting thing from my end is changing the age to Opens has given some of our older guys, who have missed out the last few years, an opportunity to stake their claim to be selected in country so they’re very excited,” Campese said.
“It’s just another platform for these older guys who still want to make the next step in their career and it’s an opportunity to showcase what they’ve got.”
UNE Harold Matthews Cup, UNE SG Ball Cup, Harvey Norman Tarsha Gale Cup
Cronulla will be itching to get past eighth-placed Illawarra Steelers as they both sit on the same for and against points on the ladder in the UNE Harold Matthews Cup, while Magpies will be itching to play some football after a bye in Round Six and a washout Round in Seven.
The Sharks will have to be at their best in the Tarsha Gale Cup to take down a third-placed Tigers outfit but both sides will be looking to bounce back after Round Six losses.
A 20-point win could potentially see the Sharks jump into the top eight in the SG Ball Cup, while the Magpies will be searching for just their second win of the season.
The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup
The Newcastle Knights will host Western Suburbs Magpies at McDonald Jones Stadium at 1:30pm on Sunday and both teams will be eager to put two points on the board after conceding losses in Round One and postponed matches in Round Two.
The Knights will be without English recruit Dom Young but will welcome Chris Randall at hooker, who broke the NRL record for most tackles made on debut with 71 against the Penrith Panthers in Round Three.
The Magpies have a big inclusion with Wests Tigers enforcer Joey Leilua in the centres, who will be difficult to stop close to the line.
Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership
It will be the battle of the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Origin stars on Monday night as Mounties take on Helensburgh Tigers at Aubrey Keech Reserve at 7pm.
Origin captain Kezie Apps will be one of the stars on show, along with Simiama Taufa, Jess Segis and Fiolmina Hainisi.
Helensburgh are one of the newcomers in the competition and will face a good challenge against former premiers Mounties.