2017 NSW Premiership Finals Week 3: Mounties preview
Mounties were eliminated in NSW Premiership in Week 2 of the finals, suffering a big 34-16 loss to the Newtown Jets. Mounties looked out of sorts for most of the match, and did not score until the 60th minute. Mounties scored three tries in the final 20 minutes, but by then it was too little, too late.
Mounties remain well in contention in Jersey Flegg, and are just one win away from playing in a Grand Final. On Sunday they face the Cronulla Sharks in a Preliminary Final against the Cronulla Sharks at Leichhardt Oval.
Mounties earned the right to a weekend off in Week 2, after defeating the minor premiers, the Newcastle Knights, 21-20, on the hostile turf of Hunter Stadium. Their opponents in the Preliminary Final, the Sharks, finished second on the ladder, so if Mounties are to make it to the decider, they must knock off another "big gun" in this year's race.
The Sharks lost to the third placed Penrith Panthers, 18-10, in Week 1, but redeemed themselves in Week 2, eliminating the seventh placed Canterbury Bulldogs, 30-10. It was a comprehensive five tries to two victory. The Sharks finished the regular season with a 15 and 3 record, plus two draws - and have just one loss in their past eight matches. The 2017 NYC minor premiers will no doubt be a formidable opponent.
Mounties finished fourth, with just one less win than the Sharks, but three more losses. Mounties have won 10 of their past 11 matches, the only defeat coming at the hands of the Knights, 42-6, in Round 21. That run includes a 26-16 victory over the Sharks at Cronulla in Round 15 - over a very similar Sharks line up to the one that will run out on Sunday. That has been the only clash between the two clubs this year.
The Sharks had a better attacking and defensive record than Mounties during the regular season. The Sharks averaged 26 points per match, compared with 22 for Mounties. In defence, the Sharks conceded 18 points per match, Mounties 19. The Sharks finished with a positive points differential of 157, while Mounties posted +62.
Mounties have named an almost unchanged team from the one that defeated the Knights two weeks ago. The only change sees Josh Stuckey start at lock, with Elijah Hunt dropping back to the interchange bench. For the Sharks, Monty Raper comes in at starting prop for Blake Manowski, who moves back to the bench.
It was an outstanding win for Mounties in the first week of the finals, at the Knights home ground - with the team producing a massive turnaround from the defeat a month earlier at St Johns Oval. With the elimination of Mounties in NSW Premiership, players like Brendan O'Hagan and Sebastian Kris may come back into the team. Given how well the current line up has been going, it'll be tough for coach Peter Marrapodi deciding who might be left out. And as proved to be the case with the NSW Premierhip team last weekend, sometimes it is better to stick with the established combinations. The Sharks pose a big challenge but we will go with Mounties in a close one. Fingers crossed they can make the Grand Final against either the Knights or Panthers.
Mounties V Cronulla Sharks
Sunday, 16 September, 3:00pm
Live stream: www.nswrl.com.au
On line radio: www.steelesports.com.au
1. Matthew Lyons 2. Tom McGrady 3. Harley Smith-Shields 4. Matthew Timoko 5. Andre Niko 6. Paul Roache 7. Toby Westcott 8. Setefano Hala 9. Lachlan Cooper 10. Matt Scott 11. Hudson Young 12. Daniel Keir 13. Joshua Stuckey 14. Kyle Paterson 15. Komiti Tuilagi 16. Nicholas Toomata 17. Elijah Hunt
1. Luke Poiselli 2. Chris Tupou 3. Jackson Ferris 4. Bronson Xerri 5. Isaac Lumelume 6. Jayden Millard 7. Braydon Trindall 8. Cruz Topai Avaei 9. Harrison Smith 10. Monty Raper 11. Teig Wilton 12. Josh Carr 13. James Roumanos 14. Luke Jurd 15. Fine Kula 16. Blake Manowski 17. Tom Caughlan 18. Aperaamo Lualua 19. Kalani Pewhairangi-Charlie 20. Thomas Hazelton
Referee: Andrew McRae
Sideline Officials: Joel Mani, Tim Hannon
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