NRL Victoria at CRL Country Championships
by Chris Avnell
This past weekend saw the Victorian Under 14 and 15 sides travel up to Paramore Park in Wagga Wagga to compete against some of Country Rugby Leagues best young players.
With Southern Zone Qualifying matches being played first up on Saturday, NRL Victoria was drawn to take on Illawarra first up with a 9:00am kick-off. Their first match ended in a 6-6 draw but with Victoria scoring first, goes down in the books as a Victorian win.
Next up for the Victorians was Group 11 in the second Southern Zone Qualifying match. A stronger performance from Victoria run away 32-0 victors putting them through to the Southern Cup semi-finals against Group 6 on Sunday morning.
With a spot in the Cup Final on the line, it was Group 6 who were too good, defeating the Victorians 24-10. This loss meant that Victoria would drop to the Southern Trophy Final, where they took on Group 9, who had been defeated in the other semi-final by Group 7.
Sunday afternoon saw that match take place, with Victoria and Group 9 running out to earn a spot in the CRL Country Championships this coming weekend in Wyong.
Victoria dominated the Southern Trophy Final with a 26-6 win giving them the title of Southern Trophy and progressing them to the next stage.
NRL Victoria Pathways and Coaching Manager Tim Auremi spoke about the efforts from the Under 14 side. ‘The boys played really well especially with this being the first representative opportunity in the full field game for most of the boys’ said Auremi. Adding that ‘They really got better as the weekend progressed, and it was a great learning cure for the boys’.
The Under 15’s went up as reigning Country Rugby League Cup winners, and earnt a win in all 4 of their matches in Wagga Wagga.
With some key injuries leading into the tournament, it was looking to be a tough task to retain the Cup in 2019.
Taking on Illawarra and Group 11 in the qualifying matches, Victoria came away winners in a 22-16 win over Illawarra, while defeating Group 11 on Saturday afternoon with a 30-14 score line.
Progressing straight to the Under 15’s Cup semi-finals, Victoria defeated Group 6 by 12 points in a 26-14 win taking them into the Southern Zone Cup Final against Group 7.
Sunday afternoon rounded out the weekend for the undefeated Victorians, defeating Group 7 in another 26-14 score line.
Auremi mentioned on the Under 15’s campaign that ‘The boys should be extremely proud of their efforts in Wagga, there were boys being played out of position and out of their normal roles all weekend’.
With both sides progressing from the Southern Zone in Wagga Wagga, they will travel up to Wyong on Friday, in preparation to taking on some of the best Country Rugby League representative sides in the CRL Country Championships Finals.
Auremi spoke ahead of their trip ‘It will be a good experience for the boys to fly up and compete, they’ll be playing in some tough matches against quality opposition but hopefully all the boys will bounce back from their bumps and bruises from last weekend and we’ll be ready to go’
Auremi also wanted to think all those Victorian families and supporters that travelled to Wagga to cheer on Victoria.
‘There’s a continuous support of the boys from supporters and families that we all very much appreciate’
Victoria Under 14’s will take on Newcastle in the Trophy Final at 12:20pm following the Under 15’s side who will try to retain their 2018 Cup Final title against challengers Group 3 at 11:15am.
Both matches will take place at Morry Breen Oval at Wyong and all 6 matches over the day will be live streamed on the CRL Facebook Page and shared via NRL Victoria social media.