From fifth to the fi­nal!

Rugby League Week - - Pre Game - JOE MCDONOUGH

ROOST­ERS COACH AN­THONY BARNES says he’s not sur­prised by his side’s stir­ring run to claim a berth in this Sun­day’s grand fi­nal.

“We only just got nut­ted by a cou­ple of the top-four teams, be­cause we played all the top four teams com­ing into the end of the sea­son, so the boys have been play­ing good foot­ball,” he tells RLW af­ter the Tri­colours’ 26-20 de­feat of St Ge­orge Illawarra.

“A few [re­sults] didn’t go our way — a one-point loss to the Dragons and then we got beat by Cronulla and that knocked us out of the four, but I al­ways be­lieved we were a top-four side.”

But it wasn’t all smooth sail­ing last Fri­day night, when the Roost­ers won their third straight sud­den-death fi­nal. Barnes ad­mits there was some con­cern in the sheds when his charges trailed 14-0 at half-time.

“We had a few early op­por­tu­ni­ties and didn’t take those, so that made it a bit hard and we didn’t have much ball in the first 20, ei­ther . . . so you prob­a­bly get a bit ner­vous, but the boys fought back well in the sec­ond half.”

Chooks hooker Grant Gar­vey was pleased with the way his side man­aged to shut down the Red V’s dan­ger men, headed by Lu­ciano Leilua ( be­low).

“Lu­ciano was a fo­cus, we just tried to get him tack­ling to get him puffed out a bit, and also Matt Dufty, we know he and Dufty have a good com­bi­na­tion — so I thought we cov­ered them well,” he says.

Gar­vey has no doubt the Roost­ers have the tal­ent to win the club’s first NYC premier­ship, even against rag­ing favourites Pen­rith.

“One hun­dred per cent we can win it. We have con­fi­dence against any team we play,” Gar­vey says.

“We played the Pan­thers twice this year . . . and they dusted us up [50-4 in round seven]. But we’re a com­pletely dif­fer­ent side now — we’re a lot more ma­ture in the way we play footy.”

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