Matt Lantry normally watches a game from the old scoreboard at Harker Oval but the Western Suburbs coach made an exception on Sunday.
With a major semi-final victory over Macquarie in the bag and a spot in the decider already assured, Lantry made his way down to the field and soaked up the last 10 minutes on the sideline.
He’d already seen Rosellas veterans Simon Williams and Callan Richardson cross in the opening stanza as well as second-half doubles to NSW Cup recruits Ryan Walker and James Elias, before halfback Sam Keenan slotted a late field goal just for good measure.
The 35-8 success was both satisfying and reassuring ahead of a premiership tilt on September 23, even more so at ground level for Lantry.
“It’s unusual that we come down from there, but we were up 34-4 at that stage and we just wanted to make sure we enjoyed the last 10 minutes,” Lantry said.
“Not that it’s tense, we were pretty relaxed actually considering the stakes in relation to today’s game. But I thought we were good today.”
The minor premiers scored six-tries-to-two and conceded only from a length-of-the field intercept in the first half and a cross-field chip-kick with four minutes remaining.
“Defensively we were clinical,” Lantry said.
“Everyone performed their role really well and it laid the platform for us to do what we did with the footy.”
It will be the Rosellas’ fifth grand final appearance since 2011, but their first after a title three-peat ended in 2014.
It leaves a bruised Macquarie to meet minor semi-final winners Central Newcastle at Townson Oval this Sunday with a third straight decider in sight.
Scorpions prop Adam Swadling (broken thumb) and centre Royce Geoffrey (ankle) have been added to an ever-growing casualty ward after finishing the game iced-up on the bench. They remain uncertain starters this weekend but coach Adam Bettridge hopes to get rested pair Mitch Manson and Nathan Hinton back from injury.
“We’re bashed up, but we’ve just got to regroup and get back on the horse,” Bettridge said.
It was 10-4 at the break.
The fixture started almost an hour late, just before 4pm, after two earlier incidents – Lakes under-19 winger Jack Field suffered a broken leg and reserve grade played out 10 minutes of extra-time.
Elsewhere and incoming Lakes coach Todd Edwards on Sunday signed Wests Tigers under-20 player of the year Daniel Peck to replace departing captain Chris Adams at hooker in 2018.
Meanwhile interim Cessnock president Darrell Wilkinson said the Goannas have so far received five applications to take over from Steve Kidd next season. It is believed the club’s 2002 coach Troy Petrysen is among them.
- North Newcastle will now meet Glenmore Park at Leichhardt Oval this Sunday for a place in the NSW Women’s Premiership decider after an Isabelle Kelly hat-trick helped them to a 28-20 minor semi-final victory over Mounties at Kograh Oval on Sunday.