It didn’t go as smoothly as many thought it would, but the Newcastle Knights under 18s development squad lifted the Laurie Daley Cup on Saturday.
The 22-16 triumph over the Riverina Bulls put the finishing touches on a happy homecoming for Mid-Western alumni Mark Morrissey, Jack Jackson and Ross Haidle who all relocated to Newcastle after growing up at Gulgong and Mudgee.
Much was made of Newcastle’s formidable for and against, which stood at 252/30 through the side’s six group games in the lead up to Saturday’s final.
However, Riverina gave the red and blue a mammoth challenge which is something Mark Morrissey expected.
“That was incredible. Riverina fought to the very end and I knew they would. They’re a tough side,” he said.
“At the end of the day, grand finals aren’t always easy to win but our strength and determination got us home.”
Grand finals aren’t always easy to win but our strength and determination got us home.Mark Morrissey
It was evident that Newcastle halfback Willy Lockwood was the glue that held Morrissey’s great side together, and the coach backed that 100 percent.
“He’s the dictator of the game. He knows how to get the team around the park and he’s got a mature head on him,” he said.
The raw emotion felt by the Newcastle squad was evident after the siren sounded as several players shed tears and collapsed to the ground.
According to Morrissey, the side was put through 12 weeks of strenuous training and preparation in the lead up to the campaign.
“It was three months of pre-season and they put in a massive effort after that gruelling process.”
“That was the relief you saw out there.”
Morrissey, Jackson and Haidle returned to Newcastle almost straight after the game but rest assured… they’ll be back.