Coffs Coast touch players take part in National Touch League

Coffs Coast touch players Dal Phoonie, Judith McNeill, Heather Duncan, Brendan Pellegrino, Kevin Rigney and Clinton Wass.

A GROUP of top touch players have taken on Australia’s best in the National Touch League.

The Coffs Coast players were part of their respective Northern Eagles representative teams who took on the country’s finest in Coffs Harbour.

Eight players from Coffs Harbour Touch Association and Woolgoolga Touch Association took part in this year’s National Touch League, including Dal Phoonie (Men’s 50s), Judith McNeill (Women’s 40s), Heather Duncan (Women’s 40s), Brendan Pellegrino (Men’s 50s) Kevin Rigney (Men’s 50s), Clinton Wass (Men’s 50s), Relle Donovan (Women’s 40s) and Ian Saunders (Men’s 60s)

Judith McNeill was a member of the Northern Eagles women’s 40s team, and also plays in the Coffs Harbour Touch Association’s competition.

She said her Eagles team got better as the tournament progressed.

“The whole aim was to use the first day as like a training session due to being underprepared and not having trained much together due to the distance of our region,” she said.

“The plan was to peak at the right time, and we’ve improved throughout the tournament.

“We’re getting better each game, as on the opening day we lost to both Queensland teams, and then the second time we played them we beat them.”

“We only lost by 1 to the top of the table Hunter Hornets, and we beat a Brisbane team who had beaten the Hornets.”

Playing in her third National Touch League, McNeill highlighted her team’s strengths and the challenges faced by Eagles teams.

“We’ve got some really good middle players that direct play for the others,” she said.

“Everyone knows what job they have to do and they do it.

“We have dominant middles who work really hard for us and dictate the play.

“Our biggest challenge is that it is hard for us to meet up to train together, as the Northern Eagles representative region covers north of Maitland to the Queensland border.

“So it takes us a while to gel playing together.”

The Coffs Harbour Touch Association vice-president said the current state of Coffs Coast touch was a healthy one.

“It is growing heaps and we have gone from two junior representative teams to seven this year,” she said.

“Our senior numbers are up, and the affiliation is in good shape, we just need more referees and volunteers to accommodate our growth.”

The Northern Eagles women’s 40s team lost their semi-final 4-3 against the Hunter Hornets, with niggling injuries taking their toll after the Eagles led 3-2 at half-time.

The Eagles Men’s 50s team just missed out on the semi-finals losing their game against Canberra by 1 try, and finished fifth.

Relle Donovan also won the coach’s award for the Eagles women’s 40s team.


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