Defence is an attitude- Clinch
Mitch Jennings, Illawarra Mercury, June 15th, 2014
Illawarra will have the chance to defend their Country Championship crown after an impressive 22-6 win over Central Coast at Wyong on Saturday.
Following a brutal first stanza, Illawarra trailed 6-4 at the interval but ran in three unanswered tries in the second half to book a clash with Newcastle, who accounted for Canberra 34-28 in a nailbiter, at Tamworth on Saturday.
Coach Gavin Clinch praised his team's defensive steel at crucial moments in the second half.
"Defence is an attitude, we spoke about that before the game so to keep them to just the one try was very pleasing," Clinch said.
"The penalty count was 10-5 against us and they forced seven dropouts to nil.
"With 20 minutes to go they had three [dropouts] in -a-row so, to not only keep them out, but go up the other end and score was a great effort."
Clinch said his side will need to improve their attack as they look to win back-to-back titles.
"We didn't execute in attack as well as we'd have liked so we've got some things to work on this week before we play Newcastle."
After having a try disallowed after three minutes, Brad Scott crossed soon after for a 4-0 lead.
However, Central Coast dominated much of the first half and took a 6-4 lead to the break after back-rower Shane McFadden scored.
Jarrod Boyle set the tone early in the second half, setting up halves partner Eamon Hillen to put Illawarra back in front before Sam Clune, whose injection sparked his side midway through the half, extended the lead to 16-6 with 20 minutes to go.
Smith put the result beyond doubt two minutes from time when he darted down a short blindside and found winger Azan Turoa for the finish and a 22-6 victory.
Illawarra will face a tough task to defend their title against fierce and perennial rivals Newcastle, who beat Canberra at Tamworth on Saturday.
The match will be live streamed at: https://new.livestream.com/BliveStreaming/CRLFinals