Home comforts for Illawarra’s title push

Tim Barrow - Illawarra Mercury

ILLAWARRA coach Wade Forrester will allow injured duo Stewart Mills and Jacob Denford every opportunity to be fit in the region’s pursuit of a fourth consecutive CRL Championships crown.

Helensburgh centre Mills has an Achilles problem and Corrimal captain Denford a niggling ground complaint after Illawarra’s thumping 30-6 semi-final win over Central Coast.

The Illawarra squad will train twice this week before making a call on their fitness for the final, to be played against Newcastle at Collegians Sports Centre on Saturday. Forrester said the team deserved the chance to defend Illawarra’s title after a dominant effort in Dubbo.

“At this stage, we’ll be 1-17,” he said.

“There’s a bit of concern over both guys, but we want to give them every chance, so we’ll just wait and see.

“I took Jacob off early (on Saturday), just as a precaution. We’ll train with a couple of shadow players this week, but I want to reward the boys who have done the job.”

Chasing a fourth consecutive crown, Illawarra raced to a 16-0 lead in 13 mintues, before Ty McCarthy extended it to 22 points five minutes before half-time.

Central Coast hit back straight after to head to the sheds at 22-6, but tries to winger Andrew Toohey and five-eighth Jarrod Boyle secured their passage to the final. Forrester said the team was yet to discuss the significance of winning a fourth consecutive crown, another chapter in a decade of Illawarra dominance, means.

“It’s not something we’ve really talked about,” he said.

“It’s there, in the back of the mind and to win another one at home would be huge for Illawarra. The boys have earned the right to play at home, in front of their family and friends, who haven’t always had the chance to see them when we play away.”

However, Forrester delivered a warning another CRL success wouldn’t come easily.

Bitter divisional rivals Newcastle will arrive in Wollongong on Saturday full of confidence, after steamrolling Canberra in the late stages of Saturday’s other semi-final.

Newcastle won 28-6, scoring three tries in the final 18 minutes after leading 8-nil at half-time.

“We know Newcastle well, we know what they’re going to throw at us,” Forrester said.

“They’re a big physical side and we’re going to have to be up for it.

“We started well (against Central Coast), but went away from the plan a bit. There were a few balls that went out the back, but we also played well in patches.”

When: Saturday at from 
Where: Collegians Sporting Complex

Tier 1: ILLAWARRA NEWCASTLE (2.10pm)
Tier Two: GREATER SOUTHERN v RIVERINA (12.20pm)
Ladies’s League Tag: EAST COAST v CENTRAL COAST (11am)




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