Lions keen to feast on Brothers in season finale
THE Warriors have fallen 26- 12 to Cronulla in Auckland, reducing the Auckland- based side’s hopes of qualifying for the NRL finals for the first time since 2011.
As has been customary for much of 2017, multiple errors and repeated knock- ons last night ultimately proved the Warriors’ undoing.
Despite another decent showing up front, where the Warriors outran the Sharks with the ball, the defending premiers ran in four tries to two to cement their place in the top four with five regularseason games remaining.
The Warriors are on the precipice and will have to win their last five, which include tough matches against Canberra and Manly, to have any chance of a top- eight finish.
Coach Stephen Kearney watched on as the Warriors again squandered chances and gifted the Sharks easy tries.
In a mostly tight first half, Ken Maumalo failed to judge a Sharks grubber kick and gave Kurt Capewell the easiest of tries after four minutes, before Mason Lino’s 32nd- minute knock- on allowed Fa’amanu Brown to score.
The Sharks’ first two tries – both against the run of play – sandwiched a juggling Solomone Kata intercept try in the 29th minute.
There was a brief Warriors rally in the second half, with Lino putting Bodene Thompson over to get his side back to within two points. GRAND final time has already arrived in the Townsville and Districts Rugby League.
Western Lions and Brothers go head to head in the TDRL under- 20s grand final at the Townsville Sports Reserve this afternoon after enjoying dominant seasons.
Lions finished the regular season as minor premiers and Brothers placed second.
Lions under- 20s coach Nathan Scholes said his team’s charge towards to the decider had been a long time coming. “We’ve been working on it for two years,” he said.
“We got a bit unlucky last year, we got knocked out in the second semifinal. But most of our boys were 18- 19 and they’ve worked really hard to be where they are now.
“Hopefully they get their reward at the end.
“Most of them — give or take three or four players — have been at the club their whole lives and the last grand final I think they played together was under- 11s.”
The grand final opponents played each other five times in the regular season, Lions winning three times and Brothers once. They also played a 16- all draw. “It’s been a bit of a up and down competition,” Brothers under- 20s coach Chris Gray said.
“We stuck to a bit of a structure in the first half of the year but as our confidence grew we changed it, and we have a very talented side.
“It’s been a tough battle for them this season, but it’s the best two teams in the competition by far.”
The under- 20s grand final comes a month before the A grade decider, which is still almost any team’s to play with two regular games remaining.
Lions can almost secure the minor premiership with a win against Norths, but Brothers and Herbert River will remain in the race if they can secure wins today.
Brothers travel to Charters Towers to play the Miners, and Herbert River play University at Joe Baker Field.
Ayr will be the scene of the round’s most crucial game when fourthplaced Burdekin clashes with fifthplaced Centrals. Burdekin lead Centrals by a single win and can seal their finals spot with victory, but a win for Centrals will give the Tigers a chance of sneaking into the top four. TDRL under- 20s grand final. Today: 5.30pm Western v Lions, Townsville Sports Reserve. TDRL A grade. Today: 4pm Western Lions v Norths, Sports Reserve; 4,30pm University v Herbert River, Joe Baker Field ( JCU); 6.30pm Burdekin v Centrals, Ayr Rugby Park; 6.15pm Charters Towers v Brothers, Bill Lewis Oval.