ILLAWARRA Cutters captain Tyrone McCarthy says Mounties deserve to be classed as favourites for Sunday’s Intrust Super Premiership grand final but insists his side isn’t daunted by the task of upsetting the minor premiers to claim the title.
The decider will pit sides one and two against each other though Mounties finished eight points clear at the top of the ladder and head into Sunday’s clash on an 11-game winning streak.
They have ISP player of the year Sam Williams calling the shots and boast a wealth of NRL experience in their ranks. They also boast two wins over the Cutters this season, including a 50-16 hammering in round five.
Mounties were too good in the return clash in round 11, running out 22-10 winners, but McCarthy pinpoints that game as the turning point of the Cutters from where they dropped just three of 12 games over the second half of the season.
“They’ve obviously been the best team in the competition, that’s why they finished in top spot,” McCarthy said.
“They’ve done a number on us twice this year, quite convincingly once, but we’ll take a lot of confidence out of that second game. It’s from there we’ve kicked on throughout the back-end of the season knowing we weren’t too far off them.
“We’ll probably look at the stuff we did that week and compete in that fashion again and hopefully we can put a few wrongs right and get a number over them this time.”
The Cutters have been the competition’s premier second half team, scoring the most and conceding the least points in the second 40, but McCarthy said a full 80-minute effort has eluded his side so far this year.
“We’d be lying if we said we’ve put a full 80-minute performance in this year,” McCarthy said.
“We’re either good in the first half and a bit shoddy in the second or we don’t turn up first half and then in the second half we lay on the points. It’d be nice to go out there and put an 80-minute performance in and I think we’ll need to to do that in order to get the win this week.”
Their 18-10 prelim final win over Newtown continued that trend but McCarthy said the tough run in will benefit his side against Mounties who themselves overcame an 18-6 halftime deficit to book their spot in the decider.
“[Against Newtown] we found that little bit of grit so when we’re not playing well we can stay in games and a couple of the boys can come up with some special plays,” McCarthy said.
“It was Hosty [Jacob Host] who came up with the play on the weekend to break that deadlock and there’s players all across the pitch who can do that for us. I think it showed that everyone’s got each others back when it counts.
“It’s great to score a load of points and get the confidence that way but to know you can do it in those good tight matches is just as rewarding.
“Going into a grand final that’s probably going to be won at the back-end of the [second] half it’s good to know we can compete in the arm wrestle.”