Two foundation clubs face off in a 2012 VB NSW Cup decider which very few predicted.
Newtown finished the season in seventh and Balmain Ryde-Eastwood snuck into the Final Series in eighth. What adds to the intrigue is that both sides came into the post season in a patch of rough form. Paul Fletcher’s men won one match of their last four and Greg Matterson’s side was saved by a last round bye which kept them clear of Mounties who finished two points adrift.
Both sides are stacked with NRL experience, in fact, a total of 18 players in the two squads have experience in the Telstra Premiership.
The Jets will be without five-eighth Adam Henry who will miss the Grand Final because of scheduled post-season surgery. His place in the halves will be taken by Kurt Kara but we think Greg Matterson is playing some ducks and drakes and we expect either Mark Kheirallah or Jack Littlejohn to slot into Kara’s position, with Kara moving to hooker.
Many questioned Matterson’s selection of Kara in the starting side ahead of livewire Nafe Seluini last weekend however the naysayers were quickly silenced when Seluini entered the game and lifted the Jets to another level. Kara is built for the rough stuff in the first minutes of each half and when the big forwards begin to tire, Seluini is injected to wreak havoc.
There is no doubt Matterson will be paying special attention to Ray Cashmere and Junior Moors in this week’s video session because he will more than likely target them in the latter stages of each half.
The Tigers won last week’s game against the Knights with a brilliant kick chase effort lead by halfback Nathan Waters and some scrambling goal line defence at the back championed by Captain Sean Meaney.
While the Tigers have plenty of NRL experience, it is usually players like Waters and Meaney, along with back-rower Jarred Farlow who lead their more experienced teammates from the front.
The Tigers have plenty of strike weapons at their disposal like Masada Iosefa, Tim Simona and Josh Davis but they just need to weather the barrage they will cop from Newtown’s monster forward pack. There was an outpouring of emotion in both dressing rooms post match last weekend and you would expect that would continue after the full time siren at ANZ Stadium.
One thing is for sure, the VB NSW Cup is back to its former status as the premier feeder competition to the NRL.
Talking Point: 68 years in the making – The last time these two squared off in a Grand Final was way back in 1944 when a Pat Devery inspired Tigers defeated the Jets by 12-8.
Back in ‘44’ the Jets and Tigers finished the regular season first and second respectively where as if you fast forward to the present, their pathways to the Grand Final have been totally different. The Jets and the Tigers have been in ‘sudden death’ mode since round 25 and have defied the odds to make their way to the 2012 VB NSW Cup Grand Final.
In fact our good friends at TAB.com.au informed us during the week that prior to the start of the Finals Series, the potential odds of a Jets V Tigers Grand Final would have been 275-1. Regardless of the result come Sunday, it’s just nice to know that despite all of the changes that the game has gone through over the past 104 years, some traditional values are still alive and well.
Prediction: The loss of Adam Henry is big for the Jets but we still think they can sneak home in what promises to be a classic encounter. Jets by 2.