Possession the key for Norths, according to match winner Richard Woolf
It’s an image Northern Suburbs fans will never forget.
In front of a packed house at North Sydney Oval, winger Richard Woolf dived over in the corner to seal a historic victory over Sydney Uni to claim the club’s first premiership in 41 years.
“I get a lot of credit for that try but it you watch it, I didn’t really do much,” Woolf joked.
“I just stayed on the wing and waited for the ball to come to me, I think it was Angus (Sinclair), Hugh (Sinclair) and Will Weeks that did most of the work and I just dived over and got all the glory.”
On Saturday, Northern Suburbs will host Warringah in their second straight Shute Shield grand final, something Woolf admits even he started to doubt was possible after the Shoreman lost seven of eight matches through the middle of the season.
“We’ve had the same side for a few weeks now and that chemistry has helped a lot. We had guys coming in and out for a while and that made it difficult through the middle of the year,” he said.
After losing to Warringah 18-11 in round 18, Norths produced their best performance of the season to beat an in form Southern Districts outfit in the opening week of the playoffs, before holding off a late charge from Eastwood on Sunday to book a spot in the final.
“If you look at the game back in round 18, possession was probably the key. We just didn’t get enough ball. We can’t afford to give away penalties and let them march down the field,” Woolf said.
“It’s almost like a rugby sevens game, if we can have more than 50% of the ball, then we should give ourselves a chance to win.
“They exhaust their sidelines and they have very quick ruck speed so it’ll probably be a very fast game. Josh Holmes likes to attack at every opportunity, so we’ll need to keep our eye on him.”
Woolf said the side’s preparation for matches doesn’t change much throughout the year and the winger said this week would be no different.
“Each week we review our last game and highlight a few “work-ons” for the week and that’s what we spend our time on at training,” he said.
“For me, it’s been contesting high balls and getting as involved as possible around the park in phase play.
“Then we’ve got our coffee groups. Myself, Lochie Creagh and Augey Slowik have a few KPI’s that we are focused on. As a back three, we want to make sure no ball hits the ground.”
While Creagh starred alongside Woolf in last year’s decider, English import Augey Slowik will play in his first final on Saturday.
“He was a mate of (former Norths No.9) Michael Dowsett’s over at Worcester and he came over to Australia this year. He’s a really skilful player and he gives Lochie and I a lot of confidence as a back three.”
While there will be interesting match ups right across the park on Saturday, Woolf’s individual battle with Warringah and Waratahs winger Harry Jones will be one to watch.
“Harry’s a great player and he’s at the Waratahs for a reason. Fortunately, we play and mark one another quite a bit and we tend to bring the best out in each other. We’re both very competitive guys so it should be a good little battle this weekend,” Woolf said.
“Hopefully we both see plenty of ball and if we don’t, I’ll need to go in and find it.”