Today, in addition my calls of the matches throughout the 2017 National Rugby League (NRL) Finals Series, I have a special treat for you, particularly if you are a fan of rugby league outside of the more professionalised competitions of the NRL, Intrust Super Premiership (NSW), Intrust Super Cup (QLD), and perhaps even the Ron Massey Cup (NSW), and are a fan of the Newcastle Rugby League competition.
It is the 2017 Newcastle Rugby League Grand Final, which will take place at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle, at the home of the Newcastle Knights, between the Western Suburbs Rosellas, who are looking for their fourth premiership in six years, but their first since 2014, and the Macquarie Scorpions, who are looking for their second premiership, and their first premiership since 1991, when they faced today’s opponents in the grand final of that year, but the Scorpions have made the grand final in the last two years, the only grand finals at McDonald Jones Stadium since 2015, when the Newcastle Rugby League made the decision to move the grand final from the No.1 Sportsground to the more modern venue.
The Rosellas come into the Newcastle Rugby League Grand Final after claiming the minor premiership, and having won 15 of their 17 matches in 2017, including winning a fortnight ago against the Scorpions (35-8) in the semi-final, and only being defeated twice this year, which is the least amount of losses by a team in the Newcastle Rugby League competition since 2010, when the Maitland Pickers only lost two matches (17 wins, and one draw from 20 matches) on route to winning their 11th premiership.
Both of those losses this year for Western Suburbs happened away from home, against the Macquarie Scorpions in Round Four at Peacock Field (18-14), and against Central Newcastle in Round 13 at St John Oval (24-12).
However, at their home ground, Harker Oval, which is only around a kilometre away from McDonald Jones Stadium, they have been undefeated all year long, winning all nine matches at home. In fact, the Rosellas have won their last 14 matches at Harker Oval. However, the 2017 Newcastle Rugby League Grand Final will be their first match at the home of the Newcastle Knights.
The Macquarie Scorpions come into the Newcastle Rugby League Grand Final after finishing second in the regular season, and having won 14 of their 19 matches in 2017, and qualified for the grand final after demolishing Central Newcastle (60-0) at Townson Oval in the preliminary final, a result that has reverberated throughout the entire competition, and something that their opponents, Western Suburbs, would have taken note of in the build-up to the decider.
Throughout 2017, the Scorpions have had a wonderful record at their home ground, Peacock Field, winning eight of their nine home matches. In fact, Macquarie have won 20 of their last 21 matches at Peacock Field, but that hasn’t helped them at McDonald Jones Stadium in the last two years, losing to Lakes United in 2015, and South Newcastle in 2016.
However, the Scorpions will be hoping that it is third-time lucky at McDonald Jones Stadium as they aim to end their 26 year premiership drought.
Looking at matches between the Western Suburbs Rosellas and the Macquarie Scorpions since the start of 2010, the Rosellas have won 13 of their 19 matches against the Scorpions, with the Scorpions winning six. In fact, the Rosellas have 13 of their last 18 matches against the Scorpions, including 10 of their last 14, five of their last eight, three of their last five, and their last two matches.
In finals matches between the two teams since the start of 2010, the Rosellas have won two of their three matches against the Scorpions. However, both of those wins came at Harker Oval, while the Scorpions only victory in those three matches came in the preliminary final held at the neutral venue of St John Oval back in 2015.
In five of the last seven matches between the two teams, the total match points score has been 40 points or more.
However, in six of the last 10 matches between the Western Suburbs Rosellas and the Macquarie Scorpions, including five of their last eight, the margin between the two teams has been 1-12, although in three of their last four matches, it has been a 13+ margin between the two teams.
So, will it be the Mark Taufua-led Rosellas who will win their 23rd Newcastle Rugby League premiership, and their fourth premiership in six years? Or, will it be the Chris Hyde-led Scorpions who will win their first title since 1991?
It will be close match, a titanic contest, and I think contrary to statistics, and public opinion, a low-scoring affair. It may well go to extra-time, we may not know who has won after the siren, regardless of whether it goes to extra-time or not! However, when it is all said and done, I think Macquarie will cause one of the greatest upsets in Newcastle Rugby League history in an all-time classic.
Find out right here, and enjoy my call of the 2017 Newcastle Rugby League Grand Final!