Cessnock to Host AAMI Championships Final
Cessnock Sportsground will be the place to be this Saturday afternoon when they host the AAMI Country Championships Final between Newcastle and Illawarra.
The Rebels will finally get their chance to avenge recent defeats against their Steel City counterparts on home soil, with Cessnock Sportsground being a ground that holds some fond memories for the home team.
The last time Illawarra tasted defeat in a Country Championship match was against Newcastle and it was at this very venue in 2006. That was also the last time the Newcastle Rebels won the AAMI title and they'll be hoping to conjour up that winning feeling again this weekend with the winner not only taking the title of the Country's best but also the opportunity to play Queensland's best before Origin II in Queensland next month.
Newcastle have named a 19 man squad and are expected to trim that back to 18 after a training session on Monday evening. Northern Blues halfback Dane Queenan was an eleventh hour exclusion from the Rebels win over the Central Hunter Power at No 1 Sportsground a fortnight ago but is expected to fit for this weekend's final. He was replaced by Wyong's Matt Sharp who did nothing but impress coaching staff with his debut performance for Newcastle and would have been giving the selectors plenty of sleepless nights as they attempt to come up with the winning formula for this weekend. The Pickers' Vern Moana Mason was also ruled out of the No 1 Sportsground clash through injury but is expected to pass a fitness test on his injured knee and will be pushing for inclusion in the final squad.
Group 19 will take on Group 11 in the Northern Zone semi final of the Tier 2 championships as a prelude to the main game the with both teams coming through their earlier matches in style. The winner of this match with progress to the final of the Tier 2 Championship to be held on June 26.
The Group 19 v Group 11 action will kick off at Midday with the AAMI Country Championship Final between Newcastle and Illawarra scheduled to get underway at 1.45pm.