Pre-season prediction: Fourth
Position: First (13 wins, 1 draw, 2 losses, +478 points differential). Lost grand final.
In short: A brilliant first season under new coach Willie McDonald clearly ran out of steam in the latter half of the year. As the bruised bodies started piling up, other sides started overtaking them and in the end, TLU just wanted it more on grand final day.
What went right: McDonald has to be credited for taking a side with so many new faces and turning them into a well-oiled machine, pretty much from day one. Leeton’s best football was scintillating, and the fact they were so tight-knit throughout the year is credit to his coaching and man management ability.
What went wrong: Perhaps a gruelling season eventually caught up to the Greenies beyond the halfway mark of the year. The wheels never really fell off, but they started to get a little loose after the round 10 loss to West Wyalong, and Leeton weren’t the same side from there on.
Best win: For sheer guts it’s impossible to go past the 30-26 preliminary final win over Yenda, which will go down as one of Group 20’s true modern-day epics. A last-gasp try to Chris Latu did the business for Leeton in the dying stages of golden point extra time, in stifling heat at Lake Cargelligo. They found it understandably hard to back up the next week in the grand final, but it was an incredible victory.
Worst loss: Serious questions started being asked of the Greens after they fell 34-22 to the Blueheelers in round 17. McDonald described Leeton’s second half as its “worst 40 minutes of the season”, and it was a result that put the minor premiership in serious jeopardy.
Best player: Surprisingly only one player – Kolo Lomu – made the Group 20 team of the year, but several others could have. Forward pair Chris Latu and Shane Roden had great seasons, as did hooker Andrew Lavaka.
Leading tryscorer: Wing sensation Kolo Lomuwas back to his brilliant best this season, crossing 24 times to take Group 20’s leading tryscorer crown. Leeton’s next best was Andrew Lavaka on 13.
Moving forward: If McDonald stays on as coach and the majority of these players stick with the club, there’s no reason why Leeton can’t give next year’s premiership an almighty shake – even if the surprise factor that was there across the first half of this season won’t be.
Grade: B+. A good season from the Greenies – good, but ultimately, not good enough. Just didn’t have that vital momentum heading into the finals that the other sides did.