As one of the classic quotes from the the great NFL Green Bay Packers coach, Vince Lombardi says, “It is a game of inches”. This quote definitely applied to the annual interstate clash between NSW and QLD Police rugby league teams.
NSWRL Patron and Deputy Commissioner Jeff Loy addresses the NSWPRL team prior to kickoff.
The game result came down to the last couple of minutes of an entertaining and torrid contest in trying conditions at the world class WIN stadium venue, on Thursday night 28 July 2018, when NSW left winger Simon Gairns did a spectacular dive to plant the ‘Steeden’ millimetres inside the touch in goal line, just inside the try-line to level the scores 4 points all, against our QLD brothers.
Speedy NSW hooker Simon Gairns dives for a remarkable try.
Windy and chilly Wollongong had the heavens open up for the majority of the first half, and courageous NSW and QLD players put their bodies on the line to try and get an advantage.
NSW made the majority of the breaks in the first half down the left side, with NSW five-eight Blake Robinson’s slick passing to centre Daniel Ah See, along with exciting full-back Anton Sayhoun making numerous brakes and runs with their left winger Simon Gairns. However, the moves were broken down at the last second, with QLD’s desperate defence, led in particular by tough centre Michael O’Keefe.
The tough forward exchanges around the ruck area allowed the mentioned spaces for speedy outside NSW backline. Brilliantly led by their NSW captain and leader Mitch West, and supported by all of the forwards and in particular man of the match lock forward Danny Lawrence, the NSW forwards were ferocious in defence, and smoothly steered around the middle smoothly by classy hooker Corey White, against their QLD counterparts .
One classic tackle by James Grey caused the QLD defender to drop the ball, giving NSW vital possession, but left James with a cut on his forehead which later was stitched up by the St. George doctor.
The 2018 NSWPRL team retains the shield.
NSW veteran coach Craig Sheridan (APM) made one of his classic half-time speeches to inspire the team to believe in themselves, commit to each other, remain patient and bring the shield home.
The rain eased up in the second half, and the ferocity of the game went up another level, with 10 year veteran and NSW forward Dave Cox, leading the way with Dylan Smith, Nathan Clarke, Ashley Cooper and Rhys Walpole. Versatile NSW forward Andy Haim, was inspirational with his wide running and hard hitting.
NSWPRL fullback Anton Sayhoun, tackles speedy QLD centre Dan McMah
NSW half Daniel Mahoney steered the boys around the WIN stadium and the tough workload was shared by right winger Alex Sahyoun and centre Sean Jenkins, who made some of his classic crash tackles on his opposing centre. Shaun Cresswell added some spark at five-eight.
After pressing the QLD line, NSW had a kick charged down by QLD centre Michael O’Keefe who ran 35 metres and put their classy hooker Jarrod Knox over for the first try in the 21st minute of the second half. QLD missed the conversion attempt and led 4 nil.
With 3 minutes to go, NSW pressed the QLD try line and almost got over when Danny Lawrence beat 2 defenders to pass to Captain Mitch West, but he was cut down centimetres from the try line. Daniel Maloney started a backline movement passing to Anton Sayhoun, who beat the rushing defence, feigned to pass inside to centre Daniel Ah See, drew the QLD winger and threw an accurate pass that bounced off the ground which was brilliantly picked up on the by NSW winger Simon Gairns who was motoring.
Simon still had work to do with two hungry QLD cover defenders desperately trying to get to him over the 20 metres he had to run. However, Simon out-ran the 2 QLD cover defenders who were angling towards him. However, Simon dived spectacularly to plant the ball over the try line only millimetres from the corner post in Josh Addo-Carr fashion to level the scores. The clock said 2 minutes 38 seconds left on the clock.
Regular goal kicker Blake Robinson who had knocked kicks over from all over during our training runs, was on the sideline, making him unable to attempt the conversion of Simon’s try. Man of the match Danny Lawrence stepped up and said, “I’ll have a crack”. The kick angled left just to the side of the goal posts meaning the scores were still locked at 4 a piece. With a minute to go, neither side had enough time to score and the full-time score remained at 4 points all.
NSW retained the interstate shield as they were the reigning champions. The shield was presented to NSW Captain Mitch West by Deputy NSW Police Commissioner Jeff Loy, the Patron of NSWPRL and NSW Rugby League Finance General Manager David Nissen.
Special mention must go the Paul ‘Wally’ Wallace who with the other head trainer Bob O’Riordon again brought a professional approach to the team and had the players primed to perform.
Thanks also to Tony Herman who Coach Sheridan brought into the camp to assist our structure.
NSWPRL Patron, Deputy Commissioner Jeff Loy with Mitch West.
NSWRL’s David Nissen, Mitch West, Dep/Commissioner Jeff Loy and St. George legend Brian Johnstone.
Thanks to all the players, officials and in particular St. George Dragons and Illawarra Rugby League, who were fantastic to our touring party. Our trainer Steve ‘Jackman’ Wilson did a tremendous job liaising with the Dragons staff.
Also a bit thanks to our sponsors, Police Bank, Police Health, Crimsafe, BGIS, NSW Rugby League, Smart Leasing and the NSW Police Association. Your assistance is greatly appreciated.
NSWPRL Captain Mitch West addresses the crowd.
NSWPRL man of the match Danny Lawrence.
Try scoring wizard Simon Gairns.
Danny Lawrence with ten (10) year veteran David Cox.
NSWPRL long serving centre Sean Jenkins with the shield. Sean is a born and bred Wollongong boy, and proud of it.
Proud brothers Alex and Anton Sayhoun.
NSWPRL hard working second row forwards, Andy Haim and Nathan Clarke
Slick NSWPRL backs Daniel Ah See and Anton Sayhoun
Mitch West with David Cox and regular prop Brayden Sharrock who had to miss the game due to a broken right hand.
Nathan Clarke, Joel Eastman, Jimmy Grey with Captain Mitch West.
NSWPRL players Dylan Smith and Nathan Clarke front with Heath Ramsay. Back row, Alex ‘The Jet’ Ramsay with Joel Eastman and Mitch West. NSWPRL life member Dough Keen in sports jacket
NSWPRL trainers Bob O’Riordon, Peter Nissen, Paul Wallace and Steve Wilson with the shield.
NSW and QLD PRL players and officials 2018.
Winning NSW side with coach Craig Sheridan (APM) in the sheds after the game.