Illawarra Cutters Head Coach Jason Demetriou is adamant a ‘herculean’ effort was required to secure the 21-20 win over the Mt Pritchard Mounties in the Grand Final at Pirtek Stadium, Parramatta on Sunday.
The Cutters had made several changes to the line-up announced midweek with utility Josh McCrone shifted from hooker to five-eighth to partner halfback Drew Hutchison, who kicked the winning field goal, in the halves.
This meant utility Shaun Nona started the game from the interchange and, due to a concussion to second-rower Chris Lewis, did not take the field until well into the second-half.
“Mounties have been such a fantastic team all year so I knew it was going to take a herculean effort for us to get over them,” said Demetriou.
“I thought we were outstanding and the way that we spoke, we don’t give up or break and I think we showed that on the day.
“The inclusion of Shaun Nona during that second-half when we got ourselves into a bit of trouble really got us some momentum and I’m really proud of the way all the boys fought.
“He was supposed to come on earlier in and around the 25th minute mark but Chris Lewis knocked himself out and that meant I had to wait and see whether he was going to be a change or not.
“We did lose a change which meant I couldn’t get him on when I wanted to but he did finally during that second-half and he was best equipped to understand how to play and how to build pressure.
‘Credit to him as he took it on the chin with the rotation as Drew Hutchison did the week before and credit to the boys that as a coach, sometimes you need to do things that you believe is the best for the team.
“At halftime we had spoken about our defence as I didn’t think our on-line defence was as good as it should have been and they had been down there twice and scored two easy tries.
“I also spoke about our kicking game which I didn’t think were going into the right areas.
“We have been the best team in the competition over the final 20 minutes in terms of scoring points and defending them so it was about getting the timing of when to bring players back off the bench right.
“I was always confident that Drew would kick the field-goal as he had kicked plenty during training throughout the week.”