It was Liverpool?s first ever league win over their cross-town rivals, the tight victory sending the minor premiers plummeting from their lofty perch. Bossy now take their giant-killing ways to Gabbie Stadium this Sunday for a ?d?j? vu? Super League grand final showdown against PCYC Parramatta Eagles (3pm kick-off).
And while the Liverpool players celebrated, there were a few tears shed in the Bonnyrigg dressing sheds following their shock exit. After dominating the 2008 competition, the White Eagles could not find a win in their last four matches (the last three at Bonnyrigg), stretching back over a month. Nil-all and 2-2 draws with Liverpool and Central Coast at the end of the regular season was followed a stinging 1-0 loss to Parramatta, and they couldn?t find the back of the net again in going down 1-0 to Bossy on Saturday.
For Liverpool coach Mile Todorovski, he simply could not have found a better time to notch up the club?s first victory over Bonnyrigg in six league tries ? at a fiery Sports Club to boot. In fact, Bossy had only ever scored one other goal against the White Eagles in that time before Sam Mort?s clever 30th minute poke past Ali Akbal on Saturday ruined the Bonnyrigg party for this year. There was a hint of satisfaction in Todorovski?s post-game demeanour, but he would love to continue his club?s startling season the decider against Parramatta this Sunday.
?You see, David can beat Goliath,? he said. ?But in my mind there is always a positive result, it?s just expectation is one thing and the real situation is different. At the moment, I am very pleased with the players. They were right on top of Bonnyrigg and, on the day, we were too good. Maybe Bonnyrigg paid the price for being too confident of beating Parramatta last week, but it is always difficult for any side to beat them. A very good achievement for the club.?
Todorovski was a little nervy about returning to the same place where Liverpool lost the 2005 Super League grand final, 1-0 in the dying seconds, to Canterbury-Marrickville ? three years and three days before this Sunday?s title dogfight. ?Same ground, same coach, different players,? he said. ?I just hope we are not in the same situation with Parramatta. But, like the movie, impossible is nothing, and we have some experience from losing in the last seconds of that game in 2005. I only hope the same ground will be luckier for us this time.?
His grand final opponent, Parramatta Eagles coach Jason Falzon wasn?t overly surprised with Saturday night?s result to Liverpool. He knows Todorovski is a seasoned campaigner and would have come up with a game plan to beat Bonnyrigg. ?I don?t think it was a complete shock,? Falzon said. ?We had the upper hand against Bonnyrigg last week and Mile obviously did his homework and got a result. I must admit, I think they did deserve it. I don?t think ?Cookie? [White Eagles coach Blagoja Kulevski] would have been overly pleased with their performance.?
Kulevski was a little disappointed, more for his players. But he took the loss in his stride. ?It was two games where we couldn?t find a goal, so we don?t deserve to go to the grand final,? he said. ?I think we played much better last night than we did in the game against Parramatta, but it?s 1-0, so it is a bit of luck in the day. I don?t know how much I can be disappointed, because we were waiting, waiting, waiting for the games to be played, and all the players were flat. I knew we had some problems with the boys because they couldn?t get back to normal form.?
?The players, actually, were very disappointed. But now is too late, we can?t do anything about this. So we look to next season, where we will definitely be in the Premier League. It is something good to look forward to. I would like to look at all the players for next year and get maybe two or three others. We are missing that striker role, so that?s one area I will be looking at the most,? Kulevski said.
Preliminary final: First grade: Bonnyrigg White Eagles 0 Bossy Liverpool 1 (Sam Mort 30m)
In other Super League related news, St George coach John Calleja has accepted a position to lead Premier League outfit West Sydney Berries next year. Calleja comes with plenty of experience, having been in charge of Parramatta, Eastern Suburbs, Sutherland, Bonnyrigg and Wollongong during his years of coaching. He will be joined at the club by another Super League product, Matthew Ribarovski, who will be his assistant in what should be a sharp tactical bonus to the Berries.
Also, long-time Northern Tigers mentor Hugh McCrory has accepted an offer to coach Granville Rage in Super League next year. Granville have an exciting future ahead of them if they can follow up from this season?s success, and McCrory said he was looking forward to the challenge. ?[It was] a tough decision to leave the Tigers, but I have left on good terms, [and I am] looking forward to a successful season with the Rage,? he said.
Grade-20 blockbuster between top two guns Tigers and Lightning
The under-20 grand final has come down to a battle between the competition?s juggernauts, Northern Tigers and Central Coast Lightning (kick-off at Gabbie Stadium from 12.30pm). After the Tigers had pounced on Rockdale in last week?s major semi final, Central Coast steamrolled the Suns 4-2 in Saturday night?s preliminary final to set up a first-versus-second grand final decider this Sunday.
The Tigers went through the 22-game season with just two losses to their name, with the Lightning nipping at their heels two games behind them. Daylight finished third. Both teams scored have more than 55 goals throughout solid campaigns, with the Tigers holding onto the league?s best defensive record of just 23 goals conceded.
Preliminary final: Grade 20: Rockdale City Suns 2 Central Coast Lightning 4
-By Daniel De Nardi