WHEN Kris Kennedy joined with Jarrod Gafa and committed to being a co-coach of Villages United for season 2015, it came at a time when the club was on the brink of withdrawing from this year’s New Era Cup premiership.
But now Kennedy is planning not only for a major semi-final, but a berth in this year’s grand final.
It has been a big turnaround for a club which only posted one win last season.
“I am pretty happy to make the finals with it being the first year we have put the team together,” Kennedy said.
“That was pretty much the goal for us at the start of the year, to make the finals to start with.
“But I still reckon we will go alright in the finals as well.”
Kennedy and Gafa began their stint with Villages by winning the pre-season knockout then notched up three consecutive victories to start their regular campaign.
Their run towards the finals has been even more impressive, having won six of their last seven matches.
The only loss in that time came against a Blackheath outfit that leads the competition with two rounds remaining before the finals.
That was a 36-24 result, but Kennedy took heart from the effort given his side was well below full strength.
“We were missing about 10 players, we only had the bare 13, but it was only in that last 10 minutes that they got away from us,” he said.
“I think if we had all our players on board that we could have beaten them.”
Villages’ latest result, and one which has sealed their place in the finals, was a 56-4 win over the Lithgow Bears at Rockley on Saturday.
Though Kennedy admits the first half could have been better – the co-coach wanting more patience and fewer errors in attack – by the time the final whistle blew Villages had run in 10 tries.
Even better was that the points were shared through the squad with a winger, both centres, a prop, a second rower, both halves and two reserves scoring.
“I am pretty happy to score that many tries, but I am also happy we kept them down to just the one try. We just got a bit lazy in defence for that,” Kennedy said.
“We were ahead something like 24-0 at half-time, so it was good to go on with it. I think our second half was a lot better.”
Villages are currently sitting in third place, eight points clear of CSU Blue in fourth.
With a bye this Saturday and then a final round showdown with currently second-placed Wallerawang, Villages can finish no worse than third.
Wallerawang are the likely major semi-final opponent for Villages, so Kennedy is keen to see his side continue their impressive run of form next Saturday.
“That should be a good game because I’d say we will be up against them in the first game in the finals as well,” he said.
“So we will see how we go in that game and work things out for the final.”
VILLAGES UNITED 56 (Jace Hood 2, Jarrod Gafa, Shannon Peters, Jamie Crawford, Brendan Edwards, Mathew Bohane, Jason Roche, Harrison Jones, Taitlin Hall tries; Jarrod Gafa 8 goals) defeated LITHGOW BEARS 4 (Tony Northey)