Raymond Terrace Magpies’ ace Lilly-Ann White leads NSW Combined High Schools to National Schoolgirls Championship

Port Stephens rugby league junior Lilly-Ann White receives her Player of the Match award for the NSW Combined High Schools team after a 60-0 victory over NSW Combined Independent Schools in a semi final. NSW CHS were later crowned Australian Secondary Schools Under 18 National Champions.

PORT Stephens rugby league whiz kid Lilly-Ann White is a young athlete in a big hurry.

The seventeen-year-old Hunter River High School student helped restore some Origin pride after steering NSW Combined High Schools to an Australian Secondary Schools Under 18 National Girls championship last Friday at Redcliffe.

White – the Newcastle Knights Tarsha Gale Cup Player of the Year – turned in a classy performance in the Blues’ emphatic 38-8 victory over the previously unbeaten Queensland side in the championship final.

The Raymond Terrace Magpies half back told News Of The Area that winning a national title for NSW was “a big dream come true”.

“It was one of the best experiences of my life,” she said, “to help NSW claim the national schoolgirls’ trophy was a special moment indeed,” reckoned the Tea Gardens sporting ace.

Lilly-Ann stamped herself one of the best young five-eighth prospects in the country with top displays at the Brisbane carnival.

Despite her dazzling form throughout the competition, a disappointed White was overlooked for the Australian Schoolgirls Under 18s team chosen after the final.

Top Wollongong prospect Evie McGrath, who shone for NSW Combined Catholic Colleges, received the selectors’ nod for the number six Australian jumper – edging out the gifted White in a close call.

Lilly-Ann demonstrated her enormous potential as NSW CHS registered victories over ACT (21-0 and 21-0), Victoria (16-5 and 33-0) and NSW Combined Catholic Colleges (5-4) in the pool rounds, before thumping NSW Combined Independent Schools 60-0 in a semi final.

White nabbed a hat-trick of tries and created several others in the eleven try rout to pick up the best-on-ground award.

In the title decider it was the Blues’ Illawarra connection of fullback Caley Tallon-Henniker, half back Kasey Reh, centre Indie Bostock and winger Mia-Rose Walsh – all Country Under 17 and Under 19 reps – that featured prominently in the win over the Maroons.

Tallon-Henniker, Bostock, Reh, utility back Kayla Henderson and back row forwards Aliyah Nasio and Charlotte Basham were the six NSW CHS players to earn Australian jumpers along with Combined Catholic Colleges trio McGrath, Tess McWilliams and Evie Jones.

Queensland dominated selections with nine players named in the 18-woman national squad to play a ‘test’ match later this year.

These include Maroons centre Ebony Raftstrand-Smith, winger Mercedez Taulelei-Siala, props Malaela Su’a and Armani-Lea Auvae, hooker Nadia Windleborn, lock Tavarna Papalii, India Seeto, second rower Alice Shannon and Reegan Hicks.

NSW CHS lost only one match at the tournament – an 8-5 defeat to Combined Catholic Colleges – and advanced to the finals on a superior percentage.

The Blues also paraded talented Hunter prospects in strong running prop Sophie Smith (Hunter High School) and promising Parramatta and City Under 17s lock Ryvrr-Lee Alo from Hunter Sports High.

Lilly-Ann, who played her early junior football with the Raymond Terrace Roosters, is testing her skills with the Magpies’ powerful Women’s A Grade team in the Newcastle-Hunter competition.

By Chris KARAS

Leave a Reply