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Cronulla Sharks deserved winners of the 2013 VB NSW Cup

October 2013

Cronulla v Windsor NSW Cup Grand Final

ANZ Stadium, Olympic Park Precinct Homebush

New South Wales

by Jodie Newell

After a flying start in the regular season then dropping games including a finals match, the Cronulla Sharks have finished off the 2013 VB NSW Cup season in fine style winning the premiership in convincing fashion over the Windsor Wolves 36-8.

The soon to be departing Chad Townsend and Tyrone Peachey were the main architects of the Sharks victory as they proved to be too powerful and too classy.

The Windsor Wolves who bow out of the VB NSW Cup and head for the Ron Massey Cup comp next year can be very proud of their efforts in 2013 but unfortunately ran into a very good side in Cronulla.

“If you surround yourself with good people, good things will happen”

- Cronulla Sharks coach Tony Herman

The Sharkies didn't have it all their own way as Windsor were the team which settled first in the hot and sunny conditions at Homebush stadium. The Wolves were magnificent early forcing the Sharks into nervous handling errors via excellent tackling and chasing.

The early hard work from Windsor would reap rewards when speedster Eto Nabuli scored the game’s first try. Nabuli did so displaying his usual blistering pace, connecting with a superb chip kick from Blake Austin. Nabuli had snuck behind Cronulla full-back Nathan Gardner to plant the ball down. Wes Naiqama’s conversion was a shocker shanking it low and to the left of the uprights Wolves up 4-0.

Windsor kept attacking the Sharks line with Blake Austin and Anthony Cherrington threatening to score again. Thankfully Sharks full-back Nathan Gardener was solid in clearing any scoring threat. Junior Moors and Young Tonumaipea made surging runs up the middle to get Cronulla back in the game. On the back of that effort Chad Townsend delivered a high bomb where Eto Nabuli was unable to gather and forced a knock-on. On the subsequent scrum restart, Penani Manumelealii received the feed and with a clever sidestep found his way through the Windsor defence. Townsend made the extras, Sharks up 6-4.

Eto Nabuli nearly made up for his mistake for the Wolves when Blake Austin put in a high kick in which a try would have definitely been scored had Nabuli been able to hang on to the ball. A golden scoring opportunity for Windsor went begging.

Throughout the season the Sharks opponents have been the earlier scorers and usually Cronulla respond and step up a gear in tempo and begin to score. Yesterday was no different. Soon after the Manumelealii try, David Fafita made excellent yardage with a rollicking run up the centre of the field. The Sharks were able to gain an extra six tackles and made sure of the advantage. Tyrone Peachey who had been relatively quiet for the first 20 minutes, weaved his magic through the Windsor defence and was over the tryline. Townsend gained the extras and the Sharks were taking hold of the game. 12-4.

Windsor although behind fought on gamely. When they next pressed forward they were able to score a try via the man of the game thus far in Eto Nabuli. The big Fijian winger took a Geoff Daniela pass and waltzed his way through Shark defenders to score his second try. Again Wes Naiqama missed the extras to his left, but the Wolves were back in the game 12-8. 

Cronulla would not be fazed by the Wolves, as they continued to push forward and again were rewarded for their efforts when at acting half, Michael Lichaa who was less than few metres away from the Windsor defending line, looked up, took a chance and pushed over for a sneaky try. It was the easiest of conversions for Townsend and the timely try had the Sharks up 18-8 at the half-time break.

Both sides began the second half well and it was Windsor who nearly scored the first try of the half. A beautiful pass out wide from Matt Moylan to Travis Robinson, saw Robinson storming out wide on the far side only to be thwarted by a superb tackle from Kirisome Auva’a. Auva’a’s tackle dragged Robinson’s feet over the sidelines snuffing out a possible 4 pointer.

The Sharks would quickly shrug off the Windsor challenge and head downfield. Nathan Grader made a run for the centre and copped a lazy head high tackle from Josh Tangitau. Chad Townsend decided to take the penalty. 20-8.

Cronulla applied enormous pressure on Windsor, forcing handling errors and were threatening to score again. This time Chad Townsend though a huge 20 metre pass to his left where Junior Moors and Penani Manumelealii combined to get the ball out wide to Kirisome Auva’a who scored. Townsend made the conversion 26-8 Sharks.

Windsor were starting to buckle as the Sharks kept attacking. Full back Matt Moylan dropped a normally simple return kick right in front of the goal posts. After a couple of plays, Junior Moors made superb use of the opportunity beating 3 Wolves defenders for the slightest of put downs and the grand final was all Cronulla’s save for a miracle come-back by Windsor. Townsend pushed the conversion kick to his left. Cronulla 30-8.

Cronulla sealed the deal in the last 5 minutes when Kirisome Auva’a scored his second try of the match in exactly the same manner when he combined with Junior Moors and Penani Manumelealii. Townsend would not miss again. 

The siren soon sounded as the Cronulla Sharks won the VB NSW Cup 36 to Windsor 30. It was a fitting result to the team who has played spectacular rugby league all throughout the season. It comes as no surprise that the New Zealand Warriors have signed Chad Townsend for season 2014, and Tyrone Peachey who will line up for the Penrith Panthers next year.

For Windsor they should be very proud as a club. They were coached by Garth Brennan and Guy MIssio and adjusted well to the format. Garth Brennan would later on the day coach the Penrith Panthers U/20 Holden Cup team to a thrilling 42-40 win over the Warriors. Eto Nabuli provided some electrifying moments of the day and he is a name that will surely figure in future NRL headlines.

The scenes inside the Cronulla sheds were one of total joy, as the club song rang our loudly. Cronulla first-grade coach Shane Flanagan was among the well-wishers. Tony Herman told his players that he was proud of their effort and added “If you surround yourself with good people, good things will happen”.  Coach Herman couldn't have summed it better on a fantastic day for the Cronulla Sharks rugby league club.

Final score: Cronulla Sharks 36 defeated Windsor Wolves 8

Tries Sharks: K Auvaa 2, P Manumalealii, T Peachey, M Lichaa, J Moors

Tries Wolves: E Nabuli 2

Conversions Sharks:  C Townsend 6

Conversions Wolves: -

Referee: Zbigniew Przeklasa-Adamski

Touch Judges :  Jay Farlow   Nathan Smith

At Homebush Stadium, Olympic Park Precinct, Homebush

Crowd (estimate): 20,000 (during NSW Cup)

Action from the VB NSW Cup Grand Final

image: 2013 NewellMediaGroup

The scenes inside the Cronulla Sharks sheds after they secured the 2013 VB NSW Cup premiership

image: 2013 NewellMediaGroup

Image: NewellMediaGroup

+ PHOTO GALLERYCronulla_v_Windsor_2013_Grand_Final_Photo_Gallery.htmlCronulla_v_Windsor_2013_Grand_Final_Photo_Gallery.htmlshapeimage_6_link_0
  1. BulletCronulla were brilliant. The Sharks as we said in our report, were so deserving of the premiership. Tony Herman has easily been the standout coach of the 2013 NSW Cup competition. His emphasis on fun and enjoying the game of rugby league has been a keystone in his messages to his players. Considering the awful ASADA mess that has tried to undermine this very proud rugby league club, the Cronulla Sharks NSW cup side has been exemplary in the way it the played the game both on and off the field. Kudos to coach Herman as we thank him greatly for affording us his time thought season 2013. Cheers Hermo!!

  1. BulletThe talent on both sides shone on the biggest rugby league stage. There would have been plenty of gasps and yells of “have a look at this” at grand final BBQ’s all around Australia as the rugby league action began with the NSW Cup. The story of Eto Nabuli (below) as told by Andrew Johns and Brad Fittler was backed up by two blistering tries scored by the 6.5 ft Fijian winger. The suitcases that Fittler and Johns referred to that Nabuli once carried as a hotel porter, will surely be filled with cash one day via a well funded NRL contract. He was sensational. Tyrone Peachey’s work was all class as was Chad Townsend who played a near perfect game. The big Melbourne Storm unit of Junior Moors featured prominently as to did the hard working Wolves full-back Matt Moylan who has seen better days. Cronulla’s Nathan Gardner was one his sides best players, making plenty of yards and defending well.

Cronulla Sharks 2013 VB NSW Cup premiership coach Tony Herman with the trophy

image: 2013 NewellMediaGroup

Eto Nabuli was one of the stars of the VB NSW Cup Grand Final scoring 2 tries

image: 2013 NewellMediaGroup

  1. BulletRugby League luminaries were aplenty at Homebush yesterday. Andrew Johns, Wally Lewis (below, left), the Big Marn Darryl Brohman, Brad Fittler, Gordon Tallis, Shane Flanagan, Petero Civoniceva, former Roosters CEO Steve Noyce (now Sharks chief executive) Lara Pitt, Erin Molan, 2GB’s Joel Caine (in pic with below) Braith Anasta and Phil Gould were spotted milling in and around the players tunnel during the NSW Cup. Oh My God i almost forgot!, the boys from SBS Pizza / Houso series Tahir “Habib” Bilgiç & Rob “Rocky” Shehadie were also there. Funny guys those two.

  1. BulletThe conditions were more akin to summer as the hot midday sun rained down on the Homebush turf. Heard later from the Roosters premiership captain Anthony Minichiello refer to the heat during an interview with Brad Fittler and this was well into the night, goes to show how hot it was.

  1. Bullet Referee Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski and touch judges Jay Farlow and Nathan Smith did a plenty decent job. During one flare up involving several players the man with the longest name in NSWRL refereeing circles Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski handled the situation beautifully. Instead of being punitive, Ziggy called to the Cronulla Sharks trainer who was carrying a water bottle and instructed him to hand the bottle to the opposing captains for a drink. He then told the players something along the lines of “Look it’s the grand final we don't need this” Hopefully Ziggy will get a gig in the NRL. Nice to say hello to officiating touchie Jay Farlow who we try to avoid at all costs when we are taking pictures on the 20 metre line during regular season games!

Referee Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski (right) and touch judges Jay Farlow (left) and Nathan Smith

image: 2013 NewellMediaGroup

Referee Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski (right) and touch judges Jay Farlow (left) and Nathan Smith

image: 2013 NewellMediaGroup


Referee Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski (right) and touch judges Jay Farlow (left) and Nathan Smith

image: 2013 NewellMediaGroup

  1. BulletStewart Moses, the media honcho from the Windsor Wolves Wolves. Job well done, your media work has been great throughout  2013. Stew was busy yesterday taking videos and doing the things media people do during the day.

At least his Holden Cup side got up and the other good news was that some 120 Wolves commemorative grand final t shirts were all sold out. Windsor should be a force to reckon with in 2014 when they move to the Ron Massey Cup.

  1. BulletWhen we spotted Phil Gould in the players tunnel we couldn't help but ask him for a short chat about the VB NSW Cup and other things rugby league. He graciously gave us a couple of minutes of his time. The man has been involved in grand finals as a player, coach. media commentator and administrator. Yesterday would have been a satisfying one with Windsor and Penrith involved as he tries to rebuild the Panther brand into a rugby league force.

  1. BulletThanks to NES security out at Homebush stadium.They were extremely helpful as we covered the game. The vibe was a lot better this year than last. We weren't told where to sit or where we could stand. We made sure we didnt get in anyone’s way and it made for a great day and was able to get some good media material.

  1. BulletKudos to to the O'Farrell government. It was a huge events week in Sydney with the Australian Navy’s 100 years in Sydney  celebration and the International Fleet Revue spectacular on Saturday night. Throw in concerts out at Homebush of “The Beatles” of the 21st century in One Direction, add Sunday’s grand final and it was a huge weekend. it had a really pleasant feel about it.  A bit like the Sydney 2000 feel.Roads were amazingly clear and it was a minimum of fuss getting in and out of Homebush on Sunday. For too long Melbourne has held sway over big events, on the weekend Sydney was THE place to be period.

  1. BulletWhilst we love grand final day there is also the stark realisation that there is no more rugby league. But with the world cup on in October / November it should help fill the rugby league void.

  1. BulletWith the journalist cap off and a confession that we support the Sydney Roosters. it was great to see them finally snare a grand final after 3 awful losses to Penrith, Canterbury Bankstown and St-George. Was great to see 2012 VB NSW Cup Newtown Jets premiership players in Daniel Mortimer and Daniel Topou playing. Their inclusion underlines just how valuable this comp is in terms of shaping and helping continue a players career path. The game was a beauty and the Roosters showed enormous character to fight back in the second half being 10 points down. Hats off to Manly as they were outstanding. After covering a couple of Manly NSW Cup games and dealing with their administrators, we’ve developed a respect for the Manly club. On the issue of booing Daly Cherry Evans we thought it was messy by some Roosters fans. He was fully deserving of the Clive Churchill medal and good on the judging panel for awarding it to the “best” player regardless of the result. Doesn't happen often. It was Cherry Evans and Kieran Foran who were carving up the Roosters and they nearly took the game on by themselves. The Roosters via great play from Sonny Bill Williams, Sam Moa and Michael Jennings fully deserved the 2013 NRL premiership. Well done Sydney Roosters!

  1. BulletThe pre-game entertainment was great.Jessica Mauboy and Ricky Martin were fantastic. Jess sung with great confidence including the national anthem, whilst Ricky Martin’s set was tight and vibrant. Well done NRL you got it right on that score. it easily beat the AFL grand final entertainment. The other nice touch was the past players gracing a large stage on the ground for acknowledgement of their contributions to the grand game of rugby league.

  1. BulletThe ball kids they do a great job, making sure the players have plenty of footys and tees when needed. The best “ball kid” coach has to be North Sydney Bears trainer / legend Greg Florimo who we heard during a finals game a couple of weeks saying to the Norths ball kids “ Guys, make sure you get the footys out quick to our boys ok? Priceless.

  1. BulletFinally a big thank you to Brad Preston and co. at the New South Wales Rugby League media department. We really appreciate your help Presto in getting access to the games and the finals. We said it last year and will repeat it again “You Guys Get it!”

Superb season of NSWRL well done.

The lads from NSWRL media did a great job in season 2013 of the VB NSW Cup

L-R Chris Rullis, Brad Preston and Adam Kidd