Touch Sharks challenge at State Cup

Touch Sharks challenge at State Cup

Eight teams, in both boys and girl’s divisions, represented the Sharks and the Taren Point Touch Football Association at last week’s Junior State Cup held in Port Macquarie

In what was the largest Junior State Cup to date, with over 300 teams with 1312 games of touch football played over the weekend, the weekend was hailed as an enjoyable and successful event for all concerned.

With the teams sporting Sharks colours and the representative players coming from the local Taren Point Association, the championships continued the Club’s commitment to Touch Football as a pathway for rugby league.

Teams representing the Sharks included girls under 10’s, 12’s, 14’s and 16’s, along with boys teams in the 10’s, 12’s 14’s and 18’s.

The NRL also supports Touch Football as an alternative, non-contact form of rugby league

Of the eight local district teams competing, two made the quarter finals and therefore the last eight in their respective competitions, with the Under 14 and Under 10 girls teams the most successful.

As Girls under-14’s Assistant Coach Shane McIlroy explained, the team narrowly missed a berth in the semis after going down by one try in their quarter finals match.  

“The girls aggressive, shut-down style defence pressured the Northern Beaches Renegades team throughout the whole game. A few consecutive sets on our line in the last few minutes resulted in the Renegades scoring the winning try,” McIlroy said.

“It is an amazing effort to make the top eight at Touch Football Junior State Cup and they are all looking forward to 2019 in Wagga Wagga.”

The 16’s girls didn’t manage to progress quite as far in their age division as their under 14 counterparts, registering two draws and four losses in their six pool matches, however it wasn’t through a lack of trying.

“Although our results don’t show it, we had a very successful weekend with this bunch of girls,” Coach Darren Shelley said. “We had a mix of some experienced players and plenty of new players to the team, debuting in their first Junior State Cup.

“Our players improved their skills to another level and also their knowledge of the game during our time, unearthing some stars of the future. Every girl gave 100 per cent effort and commitment over the weekend and everybody associated with our team are very proud of their efforts.”

As for the youngsters of the club, the under 10 girls, they may have begun slowly but they turned it around and enjoyed an extremely successful tournament.  

“The 10’s girls started the tournament with two narrow losses, but from there we didn't look back.  We went on to win our next six games with only two tries being scored against us,” 10’s coach Kylie Stewart said.

“Unfortunately, we lost our quarter final game to a very strong Northern Beaches Renegades team, but it was a fantastic effort to get through to the best eight teams in the state.”

In the under 12 girls their State Cup started with a narrow 1-0 loss to Lismore and a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Wagga Wagga, before a 4-1 victory over Peninsula saw their fortunes take a turn for the better.

Two more losses in close and competitive matches, followed by a last round win over Parkes, saw the girls finish the event with a two-win, four-loss record.

In the boys divisions, with 11 newcomers the under-10’s battled hard early, losing their first three games to strong opposition outfits, before a draw in their fourth match against the local Port Macquarie team.

With confidence gained by their Saturday draw the Shannon Burge-coached youngsters capped off their weekend with two convincing victories over Muswellbrook and Berkley Vale.

In the under 12’s the boys secured a berth in Sunday’s Finals series, only to go down to eventual age group champions Manly in a hard-fought encounter.

‘We were unlucky to come up against Manly who were a very tough and well-structured team,” coach Brad Wardrobe said. “To their credit the boys played with all their heart and went down 5-2, with Manly taking out the grand final later in the day.”

The under-14’s boys won two of their seven matches, with manager Julie Gander and her team enjoying the experience, while playing in the right spirit.

“Over half of the boys only started playing touch last October and were faced with an extremely tough pool in the preliminary rounds. We only won two from seven but had a couple of close games and were taught some valuable touch lessons by teams that looked like professional touch players,” Gander said.

“Junior State Cup is about the memories, the laughs and the mates you experienced it all with. Well done boys on surviving JSC 2018,” she added.

And last but by no means least, the under 18 boys, despite going winless over the course of the weekend, are already looking forward to next year’s event.

“They did their best as they lost key players in the lead up to the tournament and over the weekend as well, which made it incredibly tough,” 18’s coach Geoff Plummer said. “It was hard but they dug deep, competed the whole weekend, had a great time and can’t wait for next year.”

The teams played in blue, black and white strip during the Junior State Cup, with the Sharks set to continue their support and partnership with Taren Point Touch throughout 2018.