BOTH of Group 7 rugby league’s under 14s and under 15s representative sides have fallen short in their quest for country glory at the weekend.
In round one of the Country Rugby League Country Championships at Collegians Sporting Complex, Wollongong, both the Luke Langford coached under 14s and Jayson Smith coached under 15s started the weekend strongly on Saturday – both winning their respective matches against Group 11.
The under 14s edged out their rivals 12-10, while the under 15s ground out a 6-nil win.
But on Sunday, the under 14s were no match for Illawarra in the Southern Cup decider, losing 28-nil at Collegians Sporting Complex – while the under 15s decider was much closer.
“We went into the final against Illawarra full of confidence after a strong display against Group 11 on the Saturday,” under 15s head coach Jayson Smith said.
“Against Illawarra we started great, going up 4-nil early before the match was stopped due to an injury to our playmaker Corey Herdegen.
“As it was a neck injury, we had to wait for the ambulance to arrive, meaning the game was forced onto the other ground.
“It resumed 30 minutes later – which proved to be a little difficult to get the boys to refocus because they were worried about Corey. I reiterated that we needed to dig deep and get the result for him.”
Although the final score ended 14-4, Smith was proud of his troops, in a match he believes they very much could have won.
“Against the run of play, Illawarra scored their opening try, when they ran 90 metres to score, to make it 6-4,” he said.
“Then with 12 to go, they scored their second – at that stage we were still in it, so we chased the result, but unfortunately it didn’t come off.
“The scoreline flattered Illawarra but overall I’m proud of the way the whole team played.”
Smith felt privileged to be given the chance to coach this talented group of young players, who appear destined for greatness.
“My stars of the weekend were props Josua Coric and William Webb, Riley Wooden and Brodie Foster – who all were exceptional,” he said.
“Not to be outdone were players such as Harley Nizza, Mitchell Langford, Liam Lynch, Ryan Patsalides and co-captains Cooper Tunbridge and Kade Roberts, who never took a backwards step.
“I’d also like to pay credit to my staff Steve Timms, Mick Deen and Dean Pole, who all played integral roles in getting the team to where it got to.”
With both teams losing their Southern Cup finals, they missed out on a chance to travel to Cessnock on Saturday, July 1 to play in the country deciders.
South Coast Group 7 under 14s squad: Bradley Askew (St Georges Basin), Kristofer Beck (St Georges Basin), Thomas Birnie (St Georges Basin), Jack Bostock (Stingrays), Louie Chilver (Berry-Shoalhaven Heads), Liam Craig (Stingrays), Jye Hendrie (Milton-Ulladulla), Ryan Hodgson (Kiama), Zack Kelly (Nowra), Nat Marland (Stingrays), George Michael (Gerringong), Daniel Moore (St Georges Basin), Joseph Nelson (Berry-Shoalhaven Heads), Christopher Parisi (St Georges Basin), Toby Peters (Stingrays), Jarvis Polley (Stingrays), Jayden Russionello (Stingrays), Kyle Sackley (St Georges Basin), Coleby Smith (Stingrays), Kaleb Stewart (Culburra), Coach: Luke Langford, Manager: Brad Smith, FAO: Brett Mulhall.
South Coast Group 7 under 15s squad: Lachlan Bruce (Kiama), Joshua Coric (Albion Park-Oak Flats), Maxwell Flynn (Kiama), Brody Foster (Gerringong), Noah Galway (Kiama), Jarred Hendrie (Milton-Ulladulla), Corey Herdegen (Albion Park-Oak Flats), Mitchell Langford (Berry-Shoalhaven Heads), Cooper Lee (Kiama), Liam Lynch (Albion Park-Oak Flats), Beau Manley (Kiama), Jordan Morn (Albion Park-Oak Flats), Harley Nizza (Albion Park-Oak Flats), Ryan Patsalides (Gerringong), Jesse Prinsse (Albion Park-Oak Flats), Kade Roberts (Kiama), Logan Stubbs (Albion Park-Oak Flats), Cooper Tunbridge (Albion Park-Oak Flats), William Webb (Kiama), Riley Wooden (Milton-Ulladulla), Coach: Jayson Smith, Manager: Steve Timms, FAO: Mick Deen.