Finishing the regular season in first and second respectively, the Wyong Roos and the Vodafone Warriors were seeded to eventually meet in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW grand final but the season will end one game short of the target for one of them at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday (1.05pm kick-off local time; 3.05pm NZT).
Fresh off a hard-earned week’s rest, the Wyong Roos resume their title push after a dramatic extra-time win over the Bulldogs in the first qualifying final.
The Vodafone Warriors, meanwhile, have gone the round-a-bout way en route to week three, losing their week one all-top-four affair to the Panthers before putting the Knights to the sword in their semi-final last Sunday.
In dramatic circumstances, the Wyong Roos and the Vodafone Warriors played out a 26-26 draw in round 24 which sealed the ISP minor premiership for the Roos.
Down by 10 points with eight minutes to play, the Vodafone Warriors snatched a competition point on the back of two quick tries.
Earlier in the season, the Roos – bolstered by the inclusion of Roosters NRL regular Latrell Mitchell – scored a narrow 20-14 win over the Vodafone Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium.
Mitchell’s double offset the work of ISP NSW Team of the Year member Mason Lino with Wyong putting an end to the Vodafone Warriors’ unbeaten start to the season in round nine.
Where it will be won
There’s exciting match-ups across the park, perhaps none more so than in the battle of the number sevens.
Noted halfbacks Mitch Cornish and Mason Lino square off in one of the many promising head-to-head clashes, the efforts of both men set to excite and delight all comers at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday.
The craft and skill of the nippy halves will come only off the back of the work done up front, though, with two of the competition’s most willing packs set to collide in this match.
The Vodafone Warriors average 727 metres (hit-ups) per game in 2017, narrowly edging the Roos with 716.
There is little to split the two sides in all major statistics, suggesting another close encounter – the Roos again ready to go beyond the 80 minutes, if need be.
Vodafone Warriors | Zac Santo; Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Matt Allwood, Junior Pauga, Bureta Faraimo; Mafoa'aeata Hingano, Mason Lino (c); Charlie Gubb, Manaia Cherrington, Daniel Palavi; Ofahiki Ogden, Isaiah Papali'i; James Bell. Interchange: Jazz Tevaga, Ligi Sao, Albert Vete, Toafofoa Sipley, Chris Satae, Sam Cook, Semisi Fotu.
Wyong Roos | Luke Sharpe; John Tuivasa-Sheck, Paul Momirovski, Brendan Frei, Christopher Centrone; Jayden Nikorima, Mitchell Cornish; Eloni Vunakece, Mitchell Williams (c), Lindsay Collins; Brock Gray, Justin Toomey-White; Nat Butcher. Interchange: Jake Lewis, Christopher Smith, Brenden Santi, Grant Garvey.