Grand final glory up for grabs in Tarsha Gale Cup

Cronulla Sharks v Newcastle Knights

Date: Saturday, May 5
Kick-off: 2pm
Venue: Leichhardt Oval

Team
1. Joeli Morris, 2. Emily Harman, 3. Shenay Ball, 4. Skye Pullman, 5. Ellie Russell, 6. Tazmyne Luschwitz, 7. Janiyah Brown, 8. Harmony Liddell, 9. Olivia Glanville. Interchange. 10. Sophie Buller, 11. Olivia Kernick, 12. Caitlan Johnston, 13. Tia Cook, 14. Bree O'Neill, 15. Georgie Smith, 16. Ciara Atherton, 17. Caitlin Shoulders, 18. Jasmin Strange, 19. Tyla Binnie, 21. Lily Hanning.

It's set to be a big weekend for the nib Newcastle Knights Tarsha Gale Cup side, who made it all the way to the grand final in their first year playing in the national Under 18 girls competition.

The girls are the only remaining junior Knights side still playing, after the Under 16s Harold Matthews and Under 18s SG Ball squads were both bundled out of the finals last week.

"It's pretty exciting for the Club, everyone is getting behind them being our last remaining junior rep side," said Tarsha Gale team manager Casey Bromilow.

"The girls have trained really well this week... we had a team dinner for them and Kurt Gidley came to speak to the girls about what it means to wear the Knights jersey, so they are all pumped."

Pegged as underdogs ahead of the game, the red and blue girls will be coming up against the Cronulla Sharks, who remain undefeated this season.

Bromilow hopes this Saturday the Knights will have enough determination to get them across the line.

"The coach has billed it as a bit of a 97' grand final remake where the Club had lost 11 times in a row to Manly and then played them in the grand final and beat them," he said.

"Cronulla have beaten us three times this year and we're hoping we can exact some revenge on them in the grand final.


"In the first two games they beat us quite convincingly, but in the first round of the finals we only went down to them by two points.

"The girls had an opportunity to win it but just couldn't get over the line so it's certainly shaping up to be a good grand final."

With five wins in a nine match season, the Knights have exceeded every expectation in their inaugural year.

"When we got together in December the skills weren't so good, but watching them play now, they're easily shifting the ball from one side of the field to the other, so the skills have improved dramatically throughout the season," Bromilow commented.

"We had very little expectation on this team when we picked it, having never participated in the competition before, and we didn't really set too many goals around the team except to make the girls better players and to have a bit of fun.

"The group has banded together and are enjoying their footy."

The Knights' top try scorer for the season and in the top five for the competition is a speedy Skye Pullman, who has recorded 15 tries and kicked 28 goals.

Bromilow said she's set to be on Cronulla's radar with her damaging pace out wide.

"With nines football, there is plenty of room to move so she's quite strong and aggressive and has the speed as well, and has been pretty hard to handle on the edge a lot of the season," Bromilow explained.

"If they can get some good ball to her, then she could come up with a couple of tries."

Caitlan Johnston has also been a notable tackler this campaign.

"Caitlan is very aggressive and wins most of her tackles and if you're winning tackles in nines football then that allows your defensive line to be set without the other side getting too many yards," Bromilow added.

"In nines, defence wins games, especially in the girls footy."

Season regulars Joeli Morris, Shenay Ball and Harmony Liddell have all been named in the squad this weekend but will need to pass fitness tests before taking the field.

"Joeli had an elbow injury and first assessment was she was going to be four to six weeks out... she has seen a specialist and if she can get through contact this week she is a chance of playing, but still has some work to do," he said.

"Shenay broke her toe so she's still in a moon boot and is an outside chance of playing, while Harmony Liddell has scans on her shoulder that will decide whether she is going to be able to play.

"They are three players who are regular starters in the side so if they're fit no doubt they will take the field."

And for the first time this season, the Knights girls will have their match live streamed.

NSWRL.com.au will be live streaming the Tarsha Gale Cup grand final played at Leichhardt Oval.

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