Rebels Short Circuit Power in Semi Final
The Newcastle Rebels have advanced through to another AAMI Country Championships final after defeating the Central Hunter Power 56 points to 24 at No 1 Sportsground in Newcastle.
The Rebels were rocked by an early try to the Power's Gary McKeon and with the successful conversion Central Hunter lead 6 - 0 but the lead was short lived as Newcastle went on a first half scoring spree.
Wyong Roos' Chad Sharp opened the Newcastle account and when Jermaine Ale crossed in the 18th minute Newcastle took the lead and were never headed in a dominant display that will have Newcastle coach Peter Walsh going into the final full of confidence. Willy Poleo scored the first of his first half double in the 25th minute after some polished play from rookie fullback Josh Mantellato. Poleo didn't have to wait long for his second try as Matt Cooper offloaded for the powerful Maitland winger to stroll through and score underneath the sticks to hand Newcastle a 16 point lead in the 28th minute.
The Wyong connection were at it again for Newcastle through Mitch Williams, Chad Sharp and Bodanial O'Connell. Williams, off the back of Newcastle's big men, was destructive out of dummy half all afternoon and he found himself in some space in the 34th minute. Williams offloaded to Sharp who put O'Connell through a gaping hole in the right hand side defence of the Power. O'Connell picked it off his bootlaces at full speed and raced 20 meters to score for Newcastle to lead 32 points to 6 at half time.
The Rebels coaching staff stressed the importance of being the first team to score and they did just that through Josh Mantellato only minutes into the second stanza. The big fullback out leapt his opposite to score taking his final tally to 20 points for the match courtesy of his 8 goal bag.
Northern Blues' centre Matt Copper was well rewarded for his efforts when he crossed in the 48th minute to take Newcastle out to an unassailable 44 points to 6 lead.
Central Hunter kept coming at the Rebels outfit and with converted tries to Danny Lawrence, Dean Wendt and Ben Hagan got to within reach of a miracle comeback. Chad Sharp stemed the flow for Newcastle to bring up the half century and when the man mountain form Western Suburbs, Sione Finefeuaiki crossed in the 75th minute Newcastle had secured their shot at Illawarra and a 21st Country Championship title