The North Sydney Bears stand between the One New Zealand Warriors and their first appearance in the New South Wales Cup grand final.
Victory over the minor premiership-winning Bears in tomorrow’s preliminary final at Leichhardt Oval in Sydney (2.00pm) kick-off would make the Warriors the second New Zealand team – but the first in Warriors colours – to make the competition’s grand final.
On a memorable day 12 years ago – October 2, 2011 – three teams out of New Zealand featured in all three grand finals.
The One New Zealand Warriors’ under-20 side snatched grand final glory with a 31-30 golden point win over North Queensland while the NRL side lost 10-24 to Manly Warringah.
In the New South Wales Cup, the Auckland Vulcans were cruelly undone when Canterbury Bankstown scored in the final moments to win 30-28.
The side was made up predominantly of players from the Warriors’ NRL squad along with some local products but wore the Vulcans’ colours in the days before they came into the Warriors’ stable of teams.
Match: Bears v Warriors
Finals Week 3 -
Fullback for Bears is number 1 Josh BergaminFullback for Warriors is number 1 Setu Tu
Winger for Bears is number 2 Allan FitzgibbonWinger for Warriors is number 2 Moala Graham-Taufa
Centre for Bears is number 3 Jerry KeyCentre for Warriors is number 3 Ali Leiataua
Centre for Bears is number 4 Toa Mata'afaCentre for Warriors is number 4 Brayden Wiliame
Winger for Bears is number 5 Alfred SmalleyWinger for Warriors is number 5 Edward Kosi
Five-Eighth for Bears is number 6 Jesse MarschkeFive-Eighth for Warriors is number 6 Ben Farr
Halfback for Bears is number 7 Ben StevanovicHalfback for Warriors is number 7 Ronald Volkman
Prop for Bears is number 8 Regan HughesProp for Warriors is number 10 James Gavet
Hooker for Bears is number 9 Jake TurpinHooker for Warriors is number 9 Paul Roache
Prop for Bears is number 10 Kurt De LuisProp for Warriors is number 18 Bunty Afoa
2nd Row for Bears is number 11 Elie El-Zakhem2nd Row for Warriors is number 11 Kalani Going
2nd Row for Bears is number 12 Reuben Porter2nd Row for Warriors is number 12 Jacob Laban
Lock for Bears is number 13 Zach Dockar-ClayLock for Warriors is number 13 Tom Ale
Interchange for Bears is number 14 Ben MarschkeInterchange for Warriors is number 8 Zyon Maiu'u
Interchange for Bears is number 15 Ben ThomasInterchange for Warriors is number 14 Michael Sio
Interchange for Bears is number 16 Ben TaltyInterchange for Warriors is number 15 Tanner Stowers-Smith
Interchange for Bears is number 17 Ben SeufaleInterchange for Warriors is number 16 Maia Sands
Replacement for Warriors is number 21 Eiden Ackland
Reserve for Bears is number 18 Tyran Ott
Eyeing their shot at history tomorrow, the Slade Griffin-coached One New Zealand Warriors are in buoyant mood after dismantling the Canberra Raiders 49-6 last week.
To secure a date against South Sydney in the decider, they need to overcome a North Sydney side which impressed throughout the regular season to finish two points clear of the Rabbitohs on the top of the ladder.
But since beating the Sydney Roosters in round 24, the Bears have lost to Penrith (18-26) and Canberra (14-36). As the top qualifiers, they had the week off in the first round of the finals but then lost 24-30 to Souths last Saturday.
When the One New Zealand Warriors and North Sydney met during the regular season, the Bears won 20-12 in Auckland and then 30-12 in Sydney.
After beginning the finals with a 12-26 loss to the Rabbitohs when they were without many of their regular players, the One New Zealand Warriors were bolstered for their match against the Raiders and responded with a compelling performance.
Eight players with NRL experience have been named for tomorrow's match.
Returning at fullback is 2023 NRL rookie Taine Tuaupiki but seasoned centre Brayden Wiliame is missing.