WEST Lions pounced on a Group 4 grand final berth and earnt themselves another shot at the North Tamworth Bears with a convincing 66-20 win over Gunnedah in the preliminary final at Scully Park yesterday.
West came roaring out of the gate as they did last week, Matt Nean’s early break through the line and try to Kyle Cochrane in the opening sets an ominous sign of things to come for Gunnedah.
Cochrane would go on to score three tries, along with fullback Sean Nean and prop Chris Vidler as the Lions crossed the stripe 12 times.
Bulldogs fullback Aaron Donnelly scored next however, strolling over on the end of an overlap, but then the West machine kicked into gear and they scored the next five tries before halftime.
Matt Nean crossed next after his brother Sean refused to be pulled down attacking the line.
Cochrane then brushed aside the defence, before Steven Nean found himself on the end of a magic Sam Taylor ball, which put him in some space ten minutes before the break.
Coach Phil Beaton then got in on the act before Sean Nean stepped through the line to score under the posts just before the siren for a 34-6 half-time lead.
With memories of leading into the break last week and going down to Norths, the Lions stayed on the field at halftime and stayed composed.
“The boys stayed level headed and didn’t panic even when we let a few in,” Beaton said.
“Our hard work in the first 20 minutes paid off.”
Bulldogs five-eighth DJ Smith tried to spark the visitors back into the game with a try and then a beautiful round the corner ball for Jimmy Pascoe to go in in the corner.
When Donnelly crossed for his second, the Bulldogs got back to within 20 points before the Lions hit back.
A tired-looking Gunnedah line was leaking points as Wests continued to run through them.
After Sean Nean crossed for the final try before fulltime he did a backflip under the posts and Wests showed their joy at making another grand final.
Next weekend will be the seventh time the Tamworth sides will have met in the decider in the past ten years.
“We showed today that we play the right kind of footy for finals and we have the right team to do it,” Beaton said.
“We completed a lot of sets and just want more of the same next week.”
Five-eighth Sam Taylor was a stand-out for Wests as was winger Josh Moncaster who was coming off his wing to get involved in everything.
Vidler and Cochrane led the spirited forward pack, with Tom Hine and Ben Jarvis backing them up well.
For Gunnedah, it was the end of a tough season.
“They were pretty strong today,” DJ Smith said.
“They were too big and strong for us.
“Our defence got tired after that first 20 minutes.”