AFTER several years in the doldrums, junior rugby league in Nelson Bay is experiencing somewhat of a resurgence particularly in the 12 years and under age groups.
At the junior club level, Bay teams are competing on weekends in first division competitions, but the biggest improvement has come in the NRL All Schools championships – traditionally one of the toughest league tournaments for primary aged students.
Last week St Michael’s created history by becoming the school’s first ever State championship winner.
To be crowned NSW champions was an outstanding achievement for not only the school team but for the entire local junior rugby league community.
And like in many fiercely contested grand finals, the decider played against Noumea Public in Sydney on July 31 was an absolute cliffhanger, which went into extra time.
St Michael’s principal Helen Bourne described the victory as a “thrill with every team member playing their part”.
“The boys were exhausted after playing their previous games and then being forced into extra time after a drawn final result,” she said.
“The spectators, many of whom had travelled from Port Stephens, were on tenterhooks as Jarred Williams seemed to have crossed the line to score the winning try.
“But the referee called it short so the boys regrouped and managed to get the ball out to Aidan Coward whose determination got him over for the match winning try.
“It was a rewarding end to a terrific tournament and the effort displayed by the players, parents, teachers and in particular coach Craig Read had to be admired.”
On their way to the final, St Michael defeated Granville South, Kurnell, Claymore, Noumea, St Mary’s Maroubra and Noumea again in the final in extra time after scores were locked at 8-8.
Jarred Williams was named ‘Player of the Final’.
St Michael’s is now expected to contest the national titles.
By Charles ELIAS