The Greater Northern Tigers have won their way into a Laurie Daley Cup final against Central Coast after a gritty 16-10 victory over the Western Rams at Kandos’ Waratah Park at the weekend.
The Darryl Rando-coached outfit rebounded from a 20-10 last round loss to the Rams to claim a six-point triumph in the Country Championship semi.
“It was a pretty tough game,” he said.
“Both sides were pretty solid in defence.
“We could have played a bit smarter in the second stanza but the first half was great.
“I think we played our best football all year in that opening period.”
The Tigers led 12-0 after 16 minutes following tries to props Mark Simon and Jake Clydesdale were converted by fullback and captain Mitch Henderson.
The Rams hit back early in the second half when winger Tobias Miller scored a converted try.
But, Greater Northern responded well with centre Blake Johnston crossing for a four-pointer in the 52nd minute.
When Rams winger Darcy Leadbitter scored in the 59th minute it guaranteed a nervy finish for the visiting Tigers.
Added to that excitement was the sin-binning of rival props Simon and Mana Dermott, just before full-time, after another blow-up between the enthusiastic and determined sides.
Simon, fellow prop Clydsdale and lock Sam Fechner were outstanding.
Fechner, at one stage, made three hard-hitting tackles in one set, the third one forcing a dropped ball from his opponent.
Five-eighth Ethan Antzakles and ever-dangerous fullback Henderson also starred, the latter’s footwork and elusive running another feature.
“Everyone played well though,” Rando added.
“Everyone had to.
“If you don’t, you don’t win those games.”
He thought the two props – Simon and Clydsdale – were outstanding and believes the side is a big chance of beating the Central Coast Roosters in this weekend’s Laurie Daley Cup decider.
Central Coast beat the Monaro Colts 12-6 in the other semi to set up the Tiger-Rooster grand final.
The Roosters beat the Tigers 22-4 in an early Country Championship round.
“I think we can beat them if we play like we did in the first half,” Rando said.
“They knocked us over 22-4 in the wet, it was torrential and we weren’t good.”
He thinks Scone would be a good venue for the Laurie Daley Cup showdown, too, given the horrendous wet weather predicted for the coastal areas over the next week.
“Scone would be good for both sides, central for both us and the Central Coast,” Rando said.
Scone, Muswellbrook or Singleton would provide good, dry central venues for both Greater Northern and Central Coast, too.
- by Geoff Newling
GREATER NORTHERN TIGERS 16 (Mark Simon, Jake Clydsdale, Blake Johnston tries; Mitch Henderson 2 goals) d WESTERN RAMS 10 (Tobias Miller, Darcy Leadbitter tries; Braye Porter goal)
CENTRAL COAST ROOSTERS 12 (Tyler Moriarty 2 tries; Jessi O’Neill-Pethebridge 2 goals) d MONARO COLTS 6 (Joshua Latham try; Mitchell Evans goal)