VB NSW Cup Grand Final Preview: Windsor Wolves vs Cronulla Sharks

v Cronulla Sharks @ ANZ Stadium, Sunday 6th Oct @ 1:50PM

The competition’s most in-form team, Windsor, on the back of an impressive 6 game winning run since the return of Guy Missio as coach, face off against the competition’s most consistent team, Cronulla Sharks who have lost just 5 games in 2013, for the ultimate… prize of winning the NSW Cup.

It’s a classic grand final match up between two teams with two different on-field attitudes – Windsor’s game being built around the notion that if you score one try, we’ll score two tries while Cronulla’s game is all about suffocating teams in defence before asserting their authority in attack.

The Cronulla Sharks have bounced back from the week 1 loss to the Wolf Pack with two very convincing wins over Newtown & North Sydney & are widely expected to exact revenge on Windsor for that loss hence coach Guy Missio is under no illusions of just how tough a task this game will be.

Tale Of The Tape:
Windsor despite their 24-22 week one win over Cronulla still trail 2-1 in the head-to-head clashes in 2013 & are one of just two teams to have scored more than 20 points twice against the Sharks.
Windsor enjoys a slight advantage in attack but Cronulla’s game is clearly based around its tight defence conceding just 14 points per game versus Windsor’s 25 points per game. Cronulla have only conceded more than 30 points once in 2013 versus Windsor’s 7 games. Conversely Cronulla have conceded 20 or less points in 22 games versus Windsor’s 6 games. Furthermore Cronulla has lost only one game (to Windsor) where they have scored 21 or more points from 19 games in 2013, highlighting the need for Missio’s men to focus heavily on their defence if they want to have any chance of causing the upset once more.

Much has been made of Windsor’s inability to win the close games. However since Guy’s return as coach, their last three wins have come with a combined winning margin of just 8 points confirming that the Wolves have improved their mental toughness, having won 6 of 13 games decided by 6 points or less.  Cronulla has only been in 4 games where the game has been decided by 6 points or less winning two of those games, with two of those games involved the Wolf Pack, thus highlighting the closeness of these two teams head-to-head.

As minor premiers Cronulla’s win / loss record is superior to Windsor having lost just 5 games all season compared to Windsor’s 9 but since R15, Windsor has the better win / loss record indicating Cronulla has come back to the field somewhat from the stellar start to the season that saw them undefeated for the first 14 rounds of the competition but Cronulla has bounced back to their best form in their last 2 games with devastating performances against Newtown & North Sydney & will be most pundits’ clear favourites to win this game. The pundits need to be warned though that Guy Missio has lost only 1 game from 11 starts as coach in 2013 & will better for the experience of having coached in a NSW Cup grand final back in 2010 & the team he has this time is vastly more talented.

Key Match Ups:
Between both teams 23 players (12 Windsor – 488 NRL Games, 11 Cronulla – 341 NRL Games) have played in the NRL at some point in their careers hence there is no shortage of experience & skill on both sides. There are plenty of match ups all over the field to look forward to but here are the key match ups:

Eto Nabuli / Travis Robinson v Young Tonumaipea / Nathan Stapleton
The two Wolves wingers with 39 tries between them are easily the most profilic pairing in the NSW Cup. The leading try scorer with 27 tries, Eto Nabuli has scored 4 tries against the Sharks while conversely Young Tonumaipea has scored 3 tries against the Wolves. Nathan Stapleton will need to apply all of his NRL experience to halt the attacking prowess of his opposing winger.

Wes Naiqama / Geoff Daniela v Stewart Mills / Kirisone Auvaa
Wolves enjoy an advantage on the wings but in the centres the Sharks have some serious potency with Mills & Auvaa having outscored their experienced opponents 21 tries to 12 in 2013. Daniela & Naiqama will need to be at their defensive best to contain both Sharks centres.

Blake Austin / Luke Capewell v Penani Manumalealii / Chad Townsend
A classic battle of two different sets of halves. Townsend & Manumalealii are the lynch pins for their potent outside backs while Windsor pairing of Austin & Capewell are a potent attacking force in their own right having scored 21 tries between them. While its been Austin who has earned the praise throughout the finals series with some fine attacking displays, expect Capewell to cut loose in attack at some stage in this game as well. The Windsor halves will need to close down their Cronulla counterparts having themselves scored 5 of their 11 tries in 2013 in the finals series.

Junior Moors v Vaipuna Tia Kilifi
Two local juniors collide in the back row – Junior Moors a former Panther, who has enjoyed some first grade experience with Wests Tigers & now Melbourne Storm comes up against Vaipuna Tia Kilifi, who after a slow start has warmed to the week to week grind of VB NSWCUP. Junior Moors was at his devastating best last week against the highly rated North Sydney pack & will take a power of stopping on the fringes once more this week.

Nathan Smith v Tyrone Peachey
The ability of the wily veteran against one of the most exciting talents in the NSW Cup let alone the NRL in Tyrone Peachey will go along way to deciding the outcome of this game. Peachey with 21 tries to his name at both NSW Cup & NRL level, was named Cronulla’s NSW Cup of The Year during the week to add to his recent selection in the NSW Cup Team of The Year (alongside three other team mates). Peachey was at his devastating best against Newtown two weeks back & will need to be shut down in attack if Windsor are to have any hope of winning the big one.

The Sharks have named a team line-up that boasts plenty of talent & experience with the likes of Nathan Gardner, Nathan Stapleton, Stewart Mills, Chad Townsend, Siosasa Vave. Furthermore Junior Moors & Matthew Wright come up against their former team mates while Tyrone Peachey will come up against future team mates having signed for Penrith in 2014. Conversely Cameron Ciraldo, Travis Robinson & Kyle O’Donnell come up against their former team hence this clash promises plenty of fireworks.

This game will not only be the last game for Windsor at this level but also it marks the last game before retirement for Cameron Ciraldo, while Travis Robinson, Geoff Daniela, Blake Austin, Sam Hollis & Tony Satini also play their last games for the club. It should be noted that Sam Hollis will be the last Windsor Wolves junior to play for Windsor at this level, no doubt a tremendous honour for him.

With the Penrith Panthers under 20’s Holden Cup team having also made the Grand Final this week, Panthers supporters should be feel proud of their club’s progress in season 2013. With the NRL Grand Final set to be a sell out, the Grand Final is a great opportunity for fans to watch the game at Windsor Leagues where a big day is planned to celebrate the occasion. Grand final T-Shirts are on sale for just $20 & the team will return to the Leagues Club at 6:30pm so all fans are encouraged to be at Windsor Leagues Club this Sunday.

The game is being shown live on Fox Sports & Channel 9 with coverage commencing from 1:30pm for a 1:50pm kick-off. Numerous radio stations including our own Hawkesbury Radio will be at ANZ Stadium to also cover the game but you can also follow us on twitter @WindsorWolves or on Facebook – Windsor Wolves Rugby League Club (www.facebook.com/WindsorWolvesRL) for match updates.

Finally in team selection news, Coach Guy Missio has named a 20 man squad for the grand final. Vaipuna Tia Kilifi has been named to start in the back row with Cameron Ciraldo returning back to the front row & Kyle O’Donnell going back to a seven man interchange bench that also includes Tony Satini, Liam Ayoub & Josh Butfield.

The team is as follows:
1. Matt MOYLAN 2. Travis ROBINSON 3. Wes NAIQAMA
4. Geoff DANIELA 5. Eto NABULI 6. Blake AUSTIN
10. Cameron CIRALDO 11. Vaipuna TIA KILIFI
12. Anthony CHERRINGTON 13. Nathan SMITH

14. Josh TANGITAU 15. Kyle O’DONNELL 16. Sam HOLLIS
17. Tom EISENHUTH 19. Tony SATINI 21. Liam AYOUB
25. Josh BUTFIELD (three to be omitted)


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