VB NSW Cup Grand Final Review: Windsor Wolves 8 Cronulla Sharks 36


Windsor suffered their heaviest loss of the season, 36-8 to the minor premiers, Cronulla Sharks in the NSW Cup Grand Final played in very warm conditions at ANZ Stadium & in the process denying what would have been a great way for several players leaving the club to go out, led n…oticeably by the retiring Cameron Ciraldo. Windsor dominated early before Cronulla’s superior kicking game allowed the Sharks to apply relentless pressure on the Wolves in defence, forcing several errors especially in the second half of the game.

Windsor started brightly enough & were perhaps hard done by the video referee in ruling Blake Austin lost the ball in a collision with Nathan Gardner as the five eighth was attempting to score from close range in just the 4th minute of play. A Nabuli fumble in attempting to field a Townsend grubber in the in-goal moments later was let off by the Sharks when Moylan’s goal-line drop out when into touch. The Wolves were able to score the first try of the game in the ensuing set after an Austin grubber was fielded first by the Fijian Flyer to give Windsor a 4-0 lead after 10 minutes.

Windsor continued to look the better of the two teams until Austin took the wrong option in the 17th minute chip kicking ahead near the Cronulla try line only for it to be comfortably taken by Gardner on the full to allow the Sharks to restart play & roll the ball downfield where on the last a Townsend cross field kick was fumbled mid-air by Nabuli giving the Sharks their best opportunity with a scrum 10m out. From the scrum win, Penu Manumalealii cut through the Wolves defence to score left of the posts & with Townsend’s conversion led 6-4 after 21 minutes.

Another cross field kick from Austin nearly paid dividends as Nabuli almost regathered the ball to score what would have been another freakish try from the Fijian but it was Cronulla who scored next moments later when a repeat set allowed Penrith –bound lock Tyrone Peachey to get the better of Nathan Smith & score right of the posts from close range to give Cronulla a 12-4 lead after 26 minutes.

Good pressure in defence from the Wolves forced an error from the Sharks 30m out from their try line & were able to capitalise when some good ball movement went the width of the field before Daniela put Nabuli into some space & the Fijian was able to score his second try of the game out wide left right to the were able to score his 29th try of the season to reduce the gap 12-8 after 32 minutes.

In the closing minutes the Sharks were able to extend their lead on the back of repeat penalties inside the Wolves half. Interchange hooker, Michael Lichaa scored on the stroke of half time going from dummy half after the video referee ruled there was no double movement in scoring the try. Townsend’s perfect day with the boot gave Cronulla a good 18-8 half time lead.

Windsor as they did in the first half came out the quicker of the two sides & earned a repeat set when Gardner was tackled touch-in goal. From the ensuing goal-line dropout, a quick shift out wide put Travis Robinson into some space down the right touchline & seemed destined to score before a desperate Kirisome Auva’a tackled the winger into touch 10m out.

Moments later a high shot on Stewart Mills by Anthony Cherrington was placed on report, giving Cronulla territorial possession which allowed them to extend their lead when another Wolves penalty allowed Townsend to kick the penalty goal for a 20-8 lead with 30 minutes remaining.

The harder Windsor tried to get back into the game, the more the pressure told with the Wolf Pack making numerous errors in possession. Eventually they were made to pay when quick shift left inside the Wolves 20m zone allowed Junior Moors to exploit Windsor’s lack of numbers out on their right edge to put his centre Auva’a in for the try out wide. Townsend’s perfect day with the boot continued & the Sharks kicked away to a commanding 26-8 lead with 20 minutes remaining.

A spilt bomb by Matt Moylan 10m out in the next set allowed the Sharks to put the game beyond reach of the Sharks when Junior Moors barged his way across the try line despite the attention of 4 Wolves defenders. Townsend missed the conversion but Cronulla led 30-8.

A kick retrieval by Gardner almost turned into another spectacular try for the Sharks as the fullback attempted to go almost 100m before being bundled into touch by Robinson 20m out from the Wolves line.

However the Sharks would not be denied a final try late in the game when another shift out left allowed Moors & Auva’a to again exploit the Windsor right edge before the centre crossed over for his second try of the game from close range. The Townsend conversion from near the sideline put the icing on the cake for Cronulla to record an empathic 36-8 win to confirm their status as the best team in 2013.

The Wolves in playing their last game before handing back the NSW Cup responsibilities back to the Penrith Panthers can nonetheless hold their heads up high in 2013 especially given the way they finished off the regular season & their run through the final series under coach Guy Missio. All players, coaching & support staff are to be congratulated for their efforts in helping to get the Wolves to the Grand Final in season 2013 as are the sponsors & finally to our fans who stuck by us, turned up to the games or at the very least followed our progress on our social media platforms.

Final Score: Windsor 8 (Tries: Nabuli 2, Goals:  Naiqama 0/2) def. by Cronulla 36 (Tries: Auva’a 2, Manumalealii, Peachey, Lichaa, Moors Goals: Townsend 6/7)

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