The Greater Northern Tigers 18s did what they could to make next weekend’s Country Championship semi-finals, notching an impressive 52-16 win over the East Coast Dolphins at Jack Woolaston Oval on Saturday.
The Tigers won’t know though whether they’ve made the final four until the postponed Newcastle/Central Coast game is played. It didn’t go ahead as scheduled on Saturday after the ground at Cessnock was closed.
If Newcastle win the Tigers will be in, but should the Roosters prevail it will leave the Tigers one of three sides on two wins.
The Tigers turned it on in their final Northern Pool game, scoring through Mitch Sheridan seven and a half minutes into the game and skipping out to a 28-nil lead at half-time.
Sheridan’s second pushed them out to 34-nil and sparked a rush of points. They laid on three tries in five minutes to kick away to a 52 point advantage.
The Dolphins staged a late fightback scoring three unanswered tries but it was in vain.
“We’re very happy with that,” Tigers coach Peter Stevens said of what was their most complete performance.
They set it up in the first 15 minutes through their defence.
“We were under the pump in the first 15. But defensively we were very good,” he said.
As they have been all campaign. The issue has been with their attack.
They’ve been slowly getting there, Stevens said, but hadn’t quite nailed it. On Saturday they did.
He said they had put a big focus on individual roles in attack.
“Individually they are good and know how to play our structure,” he said.
“Today I thought around the middle we played a lot more direct.”
“Our ball movement was very good and we scored some nice tries.”
That was one of the most pleasing things.
“Last week we created opportunities but we didn’t finish them,” Stevens said.
He said the front row were all great. Ryan Ingram at hooker and Max Altus in the centres also both had strong games while Cody Byrne was great off the bench.
Earlier the 16s went down 40-16, their first 15 minutes after half-time stinging them.
“We let ourselves down in the middle again,” coach Luke Taylor said.
“Defensively we weren’t strong enough. We didn’t muscle up.”
They were in it at half-time trailing a strong Dolphins side 16-6.
“The first half was really good,” Taylor said.
“We played probably the best footy we’ve played all campaign.
“We just had three lapses where their guys came through the middle.”
Half-back Trent Taylor was their players player. Lock Sam Wentworth was also strong again, along with backrower Blake Trees and winger Tytan Lord.