COACH'S COLUMN | May 28

Let me start away from the NRL and say what an outstanding achievement it was when on the back of winning both the SG Ball and Matthews Cup junior rep competitions our two teams managed to claim National Championships by beating the Townsville Stingers in matches played at Belmore Sports Ground.

The Matts Sharks may have started slowly but they kicked into gear in the National Final, scoring some characteristically skilful team tries and it wasn’t until a kick off from the Stingers hit the cross bar and bounced in their favour, resulting in a try, that they put the young Sharks under any score board pressure.

Class shone through and time ran out on the Townsville boys and the Matts Sharks enjoyed a well-deserved victory.

As for the Sharks SG Ball side, almost how their whole season had gone, they had to scrap and fight right until the very end, with a brilliant last minute try in the corner to Cam Scott after some great team lead up work and a touch class from Captain Curtis Scott, capping off a remarkable year for our under-18 Sharks.

To win both State titles and then claim the National Championships on top of that, shows what talent we have within our district and our club and is a testament to the hard work done by the players, coaching staff and officials in getting the two teams, as well as the Junior development program here at the Sharks, to where it is today.

I would also like to thank our junior rep sponsors in Harvey Norman, Salmon Buckets, Mogo and Surfies for their outstanding support. Without them the success achieved this season wouldn’t have been possible.

And further to our team success, four players, Dylan and Lachlan Smith, Jaemon Salmon and Luke Metcalf, represented NSW under 16s v Queensland last night in the curtain raiser at ANZ stadium in a great reward for their performances throughout the junior rep season, while we have another four boys in the NSW 18’s and we hope to be watching them also represent the state prior to Origin 2 down in Melbourne.

But back to the NRL and it is also a big week ahead with the local derby at Kogarah Jubilee Oval on Sunday afternoon.

I have been on both sides of this battle and it always lives up to expectations and with the Dragons flying high we can’t wait to get there to play in front a capacity crowd at one of the best suburban grounds to play and watch football.

The Dragons defence has been very good this year, in seasons past something you wouldn’t necessarily considered a cornerstone of their play, even more so from a team featuring Benji Marshall and his attacking pedigree.

Sunday afternoon footy, Sharks V Dragons at Kogarah, it’s a game we’re all looking forward to.

I’ve been to many of these before, sitting on that hill with my Dad and his mates. It’s what footy is all about. Hope to see you there.

Shane Flanagan