BY DANIELLE RIES- Communications Intern
With just one more game to go in the 2017 Newcastle Rugby League season, everything has been leading up to this. The Grand Final! The two best teams from each of the 4 grades will compete to be the 2017 champions.
First Grade sees the Minor Premiers Western Suburbs face off against the Macquarie Scorpions, who have made their third grand final in a row. The Scorps will be looking to reverse the last two years’ decisions, while Wests are out to show why they have been the best team all year.
Western Suburbs First Grade coach Matt Lantry says it’s wonderful to be coaching a side to the grand final in the Newcastle Rugby League competition for the first time. “Whilst I haven’t been a part of a grand final side here in Newcastle, I’ve had a little bit of experience as a coach and have certainly drawn on that at the moment to try and ensure that we prepare our team as well as we can”.
Wests have worked hard all year to be in this position, and according to Matt, they’ve left no stone unturned in their preparation. “We know we’ve got one more game to go, and that’s our sole focus. We’re not happy with second best, we’ve set a goal at the start of the year to be part of grand final day and to win it and hold the trophy up! We’re 80 minutes away and it all comes down to team performance on Saturday afternoon”.
Macquarie’s First Grade coach Adam Bettridge says the last two years grand finals are motivation, but knows this year is a different playing field. “We haven’t really spoken about them because we can’t control them, we can only control this weekend. We have spoken about this year, it’s a different playing group, with a few new coaches on board. If we can do our job, we are hoping to get a result”.
This year also sees the inaugural HPP Ladies League Tag grand final contested between South Newcastle and Central Newcastle. One of these sides will become the first team to win this competition and lift the trophy high in the middle of McDonald Jones Stadium.
Gabby Miller from Central Newcastle says being a part of history is something every team wants to do. “It’s absolutely amazing, the girls can’t wait and really looking forward to it. It’s something we’ve worked on all year and to get this opportunity is brilliant”.
“It’s absolutely amazing, I can’t even explain it really. It would just be awesome to be the first ladies league tag winners in the Newcastle competition”, explains South Newcastle’s Captain Brooke Carter as her team prepares to take on the Butcher Birds.
Both girls are ecstatic to be playing on such a prestigious field, with Gabby stating “It will be the most surreal feeling that’s for sure, but amazing at the same time. What an opportunity and we certainly don’t want to let it slip by”.
The other two thrilling games will see Cessnock and Lakes United battle it out for the Under 19’s champions, as Reserve Grade sees South Newcastle and Western Suburbs go head to head.