Wests Tigers Intrust Super Premiership side can secure a spot in the 2016 Grand Final when they take on Mounties RLFC this Sunday afternoon at Leichhardt Oval.
After dropping their Qualifying Final to Illawarra, Paul Stringer’s side bounced back on the weekend with a convincing 26-16 win over the Wyong Roos at Pepper Stadium.
The high-quality win will hold the side in good stead this week as they come up against the minor premiers, Mounties RLFC, who have dropped just three games all season.
In their two meetings earlier in the year, it was the Canberra Raiders’ feeder team who recorded wins on both occasions, but Wests Tigers had chances to win both — losing 27-20 early in the season before succumbing to a second half comeback in Round 21.
Boosted by NRL experience in Josh Addo-Carr, Michael Chee Kam, Joel Edwards and Curtis Sironen, Wests Tigers will certainly fancy their chances this time around.
Question marks also remain over how Mounties will line up for the game, with the likes of Sam Williams, Paul Vaughan and Adam Clysdale all potentially called into Ricky Stuart’s side given the injury concerns over Josh Hodgson, Blake Austin and Clay Priest.
Mounties will also be without the leading try-scorer of the Intrust Super Premiership competition, Kato Ottio (29 tries in 22 games) after he suffered a ruptured ACL.
The winner of Sunday’s Semi Final will go through to the 2016 Grand Final.
Date — Sunday, September 18, 2016
Time — 3:15pm AEST
Venue — Leichhardt Oval, Sydney
TV — Live via Fox Sports 1 (subscription required)
Radio — Live via Steelesports (click here) and FM 89.9 Hawksbury Radio
Match Referee — Jon Stone
Touch Judges — Jay Farlow and Jimmy Oliviera
1. Watson Heleta 2. Charlie Taylor 3. Tyler Cassel 4. Michael Chee Kam 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Jack Littlejohn 7. Justin Hunt 8. Jordan Grant 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Wesley Lolo 11. Jackson Williams 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Joel Edwards (Interchange: 14. Manaia Cherrington 15. Matthew Eisenhuth 16. Dallas Graham 17. Jayden Wheelhouse 19. Manaia Rudolph)
1. Zac Santo 2. Alofi Mataele 3. Brenko Lee 4. Brent Naden 5. Eddie Aiono 6. Maurice Kennedy 7. Sam Williams 8. Paul Vaughan 9. Adam Clydsdale 10. Jeff Lima 11. Jarrad Kennedy 12. Scott Sorenson 13. Shaun Fensom (Interchange: 14. Will Mataka 15. Rhys Kennedy 16. Pat Mataele 17. Sam Duggan 18. Jarrod Brackenhofer 20. Sonny Bristow 21. Royce Hunt)
R23 — Wests Tigers 39 def. Wentworthville Magpies 14
R24 — Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 38 def. Wests Tigers 34
R25 — Wests Tigers 30 def. Newcastle Knights 28
QF1 — Illawarra Cutters 32 def. Wests Tigers 22
EF1 — Wests Tigers 26 def. Wyong Roos 16
R22 — Mounties RLFC 22 def. Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 20
R23 — Mounties RLFC 30 def. Newtown Jets 28
R24 — Mounties RLFC 38 def. Wests Tigers 30
R25 — Mounties RLFC 22 def. Wentworthville Magpies 17
PF1 — Mounties RLFC 30 def. Newtown Jets 12
Key Matchup — Watson Heleta (WST) vs. Zac Santo (MOU)
In a contest that features plenty of big games, the battle of the fullbacks will be crucial for both side’s attacking chances on Sunday. Normally a centre, Watson Heleta has shown plenty of class at the back this season, with his hard running and tenacity proving a handful for defences on several occasions. Contrast that with Santo, whose playmaking skills have added another dimension of attack to Mounties this season, with the former North Queensland Cowboys fullback registering an impressive 13 try-assists this year.
Both Santo (2nd, 99) and Heleta (5th, 82) rank highly this season in tackle busts and will be key for both teams’ hopes of progressing through to the Grand Final on Sunday.
2016 Season Summary
Position | Wests Tigers (3rd), Mounties (1st)
Points For | Wests Tigers (3rd), Mounties (1st)
Points Against | Wests Tigers (9th), Mounties (2nd)
Completion Rate | Wests Tigers (3rd), Mounties (5th)
Linebreaks | Wests Tigers (2nd), Mounties (4th)
Offloads | Wests Tigers (2nd), Mounties (7th)
Missed Tackles | Wests Tigers (2nd), Mounties (7th)
Errors | Wests Tigers (8th), Mounties (5th)
Penalties | Wests Tigers (10th), Mounties (11th)