After fighting their way into the competition decider from the bottom half of the top eight, the two form teams in the Canterbury Cup face off at Bankwest Stadium in the Grand Final on Sunday.
The Newtown Jets finished seventh, the Wentworthville Magpies eighth, making the two clubs unlikely combatants when glancing at the competition ladder just three weeks ago, but with both teams riding six game winning streaks, having taken out more fancied opponents along the way, the game is set to provide an exciting finale to the Canterbury Cup season
The journey to the ‘big dance’ on Sunday has been an interesting one to say the least for the Jets, who lost their first four games of the season, six of their first seven, and were languishing at the bottom of the table.
From there they rallied mid-year, found the winning formula late and with three wins on end to qualify for the finals, went into a week one match up against Mounties with momentum on their side.
There were a few anxious moments as the Jets came from behind to beat Mounties in their opening Finals match, the win seeing them move on to a clash with their traditional rivals the North Sydney Bears.
Trailing at half time, the Jets flew home, claiming a narrow 30-28 victory, before reversing the trend in racing out to a big lead over the St George Illawarra Dragons, then holding on for a 22-20 triumph.
Blayke Brailey, one of the standouts in the Jets recent run into the Grand Final, realises his team will need to deliver a more complete performance against Wentworthville if they hope to capture the Canterbury Cup trophy.
“We’ve got to put together an 80 minute performance,” Brailey said. “The Bears game we came out firing in the second half, the St George game it was the first half. We’ve got to put the two together on Sunday.”
Brailey, who was a part of the Newtown side beaten by the Bulldogs in the 2018 NSWRL decider, takes his place in this years Jets side with the advantage of some NRL experience under his belt, having debuted for the Sharks in 2019.
Alongside him for the Jets will be the likes of Scott Sorensen, Jayson Bukuya, Will Kennedy, Sione Katoa, Ronaldo Mulitalo and Billy Magoulias, others to have played for the Sharks in the NRL this season.
Throw in outstanding back rower Siosifa Talakai, judged by many to be the best player on the field in the Jets win over the Dragons, Sharks prop Toby Rudolf, another to have impressed since returning from a knee reconstruction, along with ex-Kiwi international Greg Eastwood and the Newtown side is set to run out a formidable line up.
On the flip side however the Magpies also boast plenty of experience, led by Tim Mannah, a former Eels skipper, 233-NRL game veteran and NSW Origin representative.
In addition to Mannah, the Wentworthville team also features the likes of former Sharks hooker Matt McIlwrick, Eels forwards David Gower, Peni Terepo and Oregon Kaufusi, along with strike power in a backline which includes Josh Hoffman, winger George Jennings and five-eighth Jaeman Salmon
Jets skipper Sorensen, standing alongside Magpies captain Hoffman at a mid week media call, is aware just how tough their opponents will be this weekend.
“We’ve got a real hard battle ahead of us. Wenty have got a quality outfit, but we’re up for the challenge and can’t wait,” Sorensen said.
The two teams have met twice in 2019, the Magpies inflicting a heavy 42-10 loss on the Jets back in round four, while the tables were turned when Newtown ran out 22-10 victors in the return bout in round 13.
Should the Jets manage to get the result, the premiership would be their first since 2012.
They went down in the 2018 Grand Final, beaten 18-12 by the Bulldogs.
The Jets v Magpies Canterbury Cup NSW Grand Final is scheduled for a 3.00pm kick off at Bankwest Stadium, with tickets $10 for adults and $30 for a family of four. To purchase or for ticketing info CLICK HERE
TEAM LISTS (as selected on Tuesday - subject to change)
Will Kennedy, Sione Katoa, Aaron Gray, Ronaldo Mulitalo, Tyrone Phillips, Jack A. Williams, Braydon Trindall, Toby Rudolf, Blayke Brailey, Jimmy Jolliffe, Scott Sorensen, Jayson Bukuya, Billy Magoulias.
Bench: Teig Wilton, Jackson Ferris, Siosifa Talakai, Daniel Vasquez, Luke Polselli, Matt Evans, Wes Lolo, Grant Garvey, Josh Carr, Greg Eastwood.
Coach: Greg Matterson.
Josh Hoffman, Charlton Schaafhausen, Ethan Parry, George Jennings, Greg Lelesiuao, Jaeman Salmon, Rhys Davis, Tim Mannah, Matt McIlwrick, Stefano Utoikamanu, Andrew Davey, David Gower, Peni Terepo.
Bench: Haze Dunster, Oregon Kaufusi, Mitchell Butfield, Haimona Hiroti, Salesi Fainga’a, James Porter.
Coach: Rip Taylor.