Thunder booming and under 14s starring in Hornets’ big touch weekend

Story by Max Stainkamph - Central Western Daily

Nine Orange Thunder players competed at the NSW Touch Junior Regional Championship as part of the Hunter-Western NSW Hornets side in Penrith over the weekend. 

Orange was represented by nearly a third of side in the girls under 14s, with Sophie Banks, Josie Clarke, Savannah Moore, Caitlin Prestwidge, Hailey Prestwidge all lining up in blue and purple for the Hornets.

The under 14s were unbeaten in their group matches, winning 2-0 over Sydney Rebels, 4-2 over Sydney Scorpions, drawing the Sydney Mets 1-1 and defeating the Northern Eagles and Southern Suns 7-4 and 3-1 respectively.

However, the Hornets were unable to maintain the rage, going down 5-1 to the Sydney Scorpions in the Semi Final.

Orange Thunder’s Hailey Prestwidge was one of two girls selected as a link player in the under 14 girls’ Merit Team, which is the name given to the team of the tournament.

There was Thunder representation in the under 18 girls, with Tayla Kaufman playing in that side, while Jack Cole played in the under 16s Hornets sides and Orange’s Rhys French and Dubbo’s Tim Boney – who has been playing in Orange this season – playing for the boys under 18 team.  

French and Boney’s under 18s Hornets side took out the championship, going undefeated in their group stage – including a huge 11-2 win over the Southern Suns, before showing the Metro sides how it’s done, beating Scorpions and Mets in the finals 7-2 and 6-3 respectively in the semi-final and grand final. 

Kaufman’s under 18 side was the runner-up in their grade, after three wins over Sydney Rebels, Northern Eagles and Southern Suns in their five group games, with losses to Sydney Scorpions and Sydney Mets. 

In the semi-final the side defeated the Mets 4-2, before going down again to the Scorpions 5-2 in the grand final. 

Cole’s under 16 boys side were also runners-up, with three wins, a draw and a loss in their group stage before defeating the Scorpions 4-2 in the semi-final and going down to the Mets 6-1 in the grand final. 

Overall, the Hornets came second in the overall standings across the six teams over three age groups, with points tallied over the weekend. 

Orange Thunder representative coordinator Joel Begnell said he was stoked to have so many Orange players representing the Hornets. 

“The kids all played really well,” he said. 

“The Thunder is happy the kids are getting recognised playing at a regional level for their good efforts when playing for Orange.”


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