One to go..Manly players and staff after their preliminary final win. Photo by Michael J.Wright © 2017)
Harold Matthews Grand Final
Newcastle Knights v Manly Sea Eagles
Leichhardt Oval, Saturday 6 May, 11am
Entry $5 adults, children under 16 free, pensioners free
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles will be out to create history at Leichhardt Oval this Saturday in the NSWRL Harold Matthews Grand Final.
In the rich history of the U16s Harold Matthews competition, the Sea Eagles have never won the title, yet alone contest the premiership decider since the competition began in 1970.
Standing in the way of history for the Brett Fulton coached Sea Eagles will be undefeated minor premiers, Newcastle Knights.
The two teams met in round four at Cessnock Sports Ground with Newcastle winning 40-16.
Manly finished the regular season in fifth place with six wins from eight games.
Week one of the finals series saw the Sea Eagles crush Central Coast Roosters 48-6 in the elimination quarter final at Hammondville Oval.
The following week, Manly beat Illawarra 46-6 win in the semi-final at Belmore Sports Ground.
The Sea Eagles then beat Parramatta Eels 30-24 in the preliminary final at UOW Jubilee Oval last Saturday to advance to the grand final.
Manly scored four tries in the first 15 minutes until the Eels hit back to trail 26-10 at half-time before withstanding a strong second half comeback to claim victory.
Newcastle made it through to the grand final following a 40-30 victory over Illawarra in week one of the finals to advance to the preliminary final.
The Knights then beat Canberra Raiders 50-16 in the preliminary final after leading 40-0 at half-time.
The grand final is set to be an enthralling contest with both teams possessing lethal attacking weapons across the park.
Manly full-back Albert Hopoate is the competition’s leading tryscorer with 15 while Newcastle full-back Bradman Best scored four tries in the win over Manly in round four. Best scored a hat-trick in the preliminary final against Canberra last Saturday to take his season tally to 11.
Newcastle wingers Malie-J Townsend (13 tries) and Patrick Achurch (12) have scored 25 tries, meaning the Knights’ back three have scored 36 tries this season.
Manly five-eighth Kaeo Weekes also knows how to find the tryline, crossing 11 times this season.
The Knights also have the competition’s leading pointscorer in five-eighth Max Buderus (140 points) with Manly half-back Daniel Ala registering 84 points this season.
Sea Eagles supporters are encouraged to get to Leichhardt Oval to cheer on the Manly boys and hopefully witness history in the making.
Manly Sea Eagles Grand Final team
1 Albert Hopoate
2 Armani Biddle
3 Keegan Turner
4 Ben Trbojevic
5 Uluaki Tuipulotu
6 Kaeo Weekes
7 Daniel Ala
8 Filimaua Filimaua Tau
9 Jack Birt
10 Alec Tuitavake
11 Jacob Ratcliff
12 Joshua Schuster (C)
13 Levi Moger
14 Luke Rouland
15 Tyreece Matangi
16 Viliami Fifita
17 Angus O’Donnell
18 Jai Vakai
Coach: Brett Fulton
Orange Shirt Trainer: Daniel Gartner; Blue Shirt Trainer: Richard Kairouz; Manager: Luke Freudenstein.
Manly’s Run to the Grand Final
Rd 1 vs Canberra, Lottoland. Cancelled due to wet weather; Rd 2 d Souths 54-8, Erskineville Oval; Rd 3 d Western Sydney Academy of Sport 54-4, Lottoland; Rd 4 lost to Newcastle 40-16, Cessnock Sports Ground; Rd 5 d Penrith 38-6, Lottoland; Rd 6 lost to Cronulla 18-10, Cronulla High School; Rd 7 d Western Suburbs Magpies 48-20, New Era Stadium; Rd 8 d Western Sydney Academy of Sport 42-0, Lottoland; Rd 9 d Sydney Roosters 60-14, St Marys Leagues Club Stadium; Qualifying Final d Sydney Roosters 48-6, Hammondville Oval; Semi-Final d Illawarra Steelers 46-6, Belmore Sports Ground; Preliminary Final d Parramatta Eels 30-24, UOW Jubilee Oval.