Under-20s set for Sydney face-off

Last updated 00:31 21/09/2008

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THE Warriors are becoming the envy of all other clubs in the NRL as their first-grade side and Under-20s gun for premiership glory.

The Junior Warriors thumped Penrith on Friday night to set up a preliminary final against Brisbane, which could potentially be the curtainraiser to the Warriors v Manly clash in Sydney next Saturday night.

Under-20s coach Tony Iro was proud of his team's effort.

"I'm very proud especially to win against a team like Penrith because they have beaten us twice this year so we had that mental hurdle to overcome," Iro told Sunday News. "We prepared well even though we had the short week, which was probably a good thing in the end.

"They did everything we asked of them. They played great footy."

Iro received a massive boost after last weekend's first-up finals win, when the NRL confirmed Patrick Ah Van and Sonny Fai would be eligible for the Under-20s. Both have represented the senior Warriors this season.

"As soon as the Warriors won in Melbourne, then Sonny and Patrick became available for us and now they have played twice in the finals for us they can continue playing for us," Iro said.

A clever plan to try to qualify star NRL rookie Ben Matulino for the Under-20s finals series was nipped in the bud, however.

In the last week of the regular season, Iro named Matulino on his bench, even though the young forward couldn't take the field because he was playing for the NRL side. Had he not played at all, Matulino would have met the criteria to play for the Under-20s.

"We got our maths wrong," Iro admitted. "It was bloody stupid on our part really.

"We thought we could qualify him by naming him on the bench but unfortunately we forgot to take into account that he was going to play that night in the NRL, so that was our mistake.

"I'd like to think that Ben is going to stay with the NRL team right through until the Grand Final anyway."

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- Sunday News

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