Nathan Smith previews the Canterbury Cup Grand Final between the Newtown Jets and Wentworthville Magpies…
TEAM FORM GUIDE
Overall, they’ve had a fairly even season, with 11 wins, 1 draw and 10 losses, which saw them finish seventh. They were most impressive in last week’s preliminary final, defeating the minor premiers St-George-Illawarra, 22-20.
Similar to the Newtown Jets, they’ve had an even year: 11 wins, 11 losses. They finished eighth during the regular season. To qualify for the grand final, they thumped the Rabbitohs (who had finished second) 35-10.
Aaron Gray returns to the Jets, pushing Matt Evans to the reserves. The inclusion of Jack Williams at five-eighth moves Toby Rudolf to prop.
Newtown Jets’ squad: 1. William Kennedy, 2. Sione Katoa, 3. Aaron Gray, 4. Ronaldo Mulitalo, 5. Tyrone Phillips, 6. Jack Williams, 7. Braydon Trindall, 8. Toby Rudolf, 9. Blayke Brailey, 10. Jaimin Jolliffe, 11. Scott Sorensen, 12. Jason Bukuya, 13. Billy Magoulias, 14. Teig Wilton, 15. Jackson Ferris, 16. Siosifa Talakai, 17. Daniel Vasquez, 18. Luke Polselli, 19. Matt Evans, 21. Wesley Lolol, 23. Grant Garvey, 24. Josh Carr, 25. Greg Eastwood.
Wentworthville will field the same team that featured in their comprehensive win last week.
Wentworthville Magpies squad: 1. Josh Hoffman, 2. Charlton Schaafhausen, 3. Ethan Parry, 4. George Jennings, 5. Greg Leleisiuao, 6. Jaeman Salmon, 7. Rhys Davies, 8. Tim Mannah, 9. Matt Mcllwrick, 10. Stefano Utoikamanu, 11. Andrew Davey, 12. David Gower, 13. Peni Terepo, 14. Haze Dunster, 15. Oregon Kaufusi, 16. Mitchell Butfield, 17. Haimona Hiroti, 18. Salesi Fainga’a, 19. James Porter.
HEAD TO HEAD
The last time these teams met was in round 4, which saw the Magpies finish comprehensive winners 42-10. Newtown were able to snag a 22-10 win in round 13. Both sides are on a six-game winning streak which has led to their remarkable finals surge and place in this grand final, so both will be full of confidence in their ability to win. They’ve previously met in a grand final in 2008: the longest ever grand final after a total of 24 minutes of extra time was played, which eventually saw the Magpies win 12-8.
Tim Mannah v Aaron Gray
This isn’t a match up of two rival positions, but rather two players who will have a big influence for their respective teams.
What Tim Mannah brings goes without saying. The heart and soul of the Parramatta side for a decade, he finishes it all at home. A consistently hard worker, he previously put off a farewell at Bankwest Stadium to focus on the Magpies. His teammates will be looking to put in a good performance for him. You can expect many Eels fans to turn up to cheer him on. Mannah, of course, will put in a strong shift, and leave nothing to chance as he attempts to go out a winner.
Newtown are heavily bolstered by Aaron Gray’s inclusion. He has scored 22 tries in 49 appearances in the NRL and will be a massive strike weapon for the Jets on Sunday. Joining a backline that already includes the first grade experience of Ronaldo Mulitalo and Tyrone Phillips, Newtown have plenty of attacking options and will be looking to use the ball out wide. Bankwest Stadium has shown that on a dry, sunny afternoon, tries are easy to come by if you have the players. This will be perfect for the likes of Gray.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Sunday, 29th of September
Venue: Bankwest Stadium, Parramatta
Kick-off: 3.05pm (local)
Referee: Todd Smith, Drew Oultram
WHO WILL WIN?
In a close contest, the one thing that might sneak the Wentworthville Magpies home is a strong showing of the Parramatta faithful, who will be cheering them on, and particularly their stalwart player Mannah. One would imagine the entire team will be striving to send him out with some silverware.
Magpies by seven.