Newcastle rugby union: Merewether coach says Hamilton’s late inclusion within the rulesphotos, video
RETRO LOOK: Hamilton prop Faavae Sila, wearing a jersey to mark the Hawks’ 50th year, hits the ball up close to the ruck in the 14-10 win over Merewether at Passmore Oval. Picture: Pat GleesonMEREWETHER co-coach Mick Gill admitted he would have done the same thing had he been Hamilton bossScott Coleman.
OUCH: Gropers’ Chad Northcott cops a shot making a tackle on Lake Macquarie’s KJ Lam. Picture: Stewart Hazell
With the minor premiership on the line and the Hawks down 10-0, Coleman brought on Chris Pusi in the 55th minute.
The power-packed hooker had been playing for Warringahbut after missing a place on the Rats’ first-grade bench for Saturday’s grand final, he was granted a release. He registered with Hamilton on Friday and was cleared to play against Merewether.
Greens don’t smell a rat in hooker’s cameo TweetFacebook Hamilton v Merewether, Nelson Bay v Lake Macquariue Pictures: Pat Gleeson, Stewart Hazell+15Pictures: Pat Gleeson, Stewart HazellMORE GALLERIES
facebookSHAREtwitterTWEETemailwhatsappcommentCommentsThe end result was a 14-10 win to the Hawks at Passmore Oval on Saturday and a rest in the first week of the finals.
Wanderers face an in-form Southern Beaches in the qualifying final on Saturday.
Merewether, despite the loss, stayed fifth and will meet Maitland in the elimination semi-final.
On Saturday,Pusi’s introduction coincided with the departure of Merewether scrum anchor Frank Uini.
Until that point, the Greens had held the normally dominant Hamilton scrum.But with Pusi in control, the Hawks eight became a wrecking ball. They won four tight heads, were awarded at least five scrum penalties and scored the match-winning try from a pushover.
“It is in the by-laws so we can’t be jumping up and down,” Gill said of Pusi’s cameo. “If we had SamFogarty [back from Eastern Suburbs] we would have done it as well. There is no doubt having that experience come on in the front row made a difference.”
Pusi’s inclusion followed that of Tieuti Asi (Hamilton) and Daniel Martine (wanderers) in similar circumstances the week before.
— James Gardiner (@JamesGardiner42) August 26, 2017
“We will cop flak for it,” Coleman said. “They are registered and it is all ticked off. They are both Hawks club men. They have been here four or five years. When they don’t go to Sydney they comehere and train.”
Coleman said the fact that both had opted tostay in Newcastle rather than be at North Sydney Oval for the Rats’ 30-25 win over Northern Suburbs in the grand final was a sign of their commitment.
The coach agreed that Pusi had a major impact.
“That definitely helped our scrum,” Coleman said. “We are just not clicking anywhere else at the moment.”
To be eligible for the finals players must be registered by June 30 and play a minimum of four games. Clubs have until Tuesday to apply to have ineligible players cleared. In recent seasons the NHRU has stuck hard to the by-laws.
Merewether were the better team for 60 minutes against Hamilton. They played with urgency, forced the Hawks into error and found holes when fly-half Frazer Price took the ball to the line..
“We will take massive confidence out of the game,” Gill said. “We always said if we make the five we will cause some damage.”
Elsewhere Saturday, Nelson Bay were awarded a controversial late penalty try to beat Lake Macquarie 34-31.Maitland out-muscled Wanderers 29-17 at Marcelllin Park, Uni beat The Waratahs 57-33 and Southern Beaches thrashedSingleton 53-20.
*Bruce Cook, is the guest speaker at the Waratahs’ sportsmen’s luncheon at the Sydney Junction Hotel on Friday. Contact Ken Beveridge for tickets –0412 968 285.