Rebels Stop Power in Final Victory
The Newcastle Rebels defeated the Central Hunter Power 36 - 6 in the final of the AAMI Under 18's Regional Championships at Port Macquarie's Regional Stadium on Friday night.
Playing in front of a capacity crowd of 7500 people in the lead up to the Country v City match, the Newcastle Rebels overcome a 22 year drought to take the title in convincing fashion.
It didn't take long for the Rebels to open their account as they crossed in the 4th minute through a clever dummy half run from Mitch Cullen who failed to convert his own try from just left of the uprights. Newcastle were at it again after the restart when an intercept chance went begging for the Central Hunter Power gifting Newcastle another set of six in the Power's half which they took full advantage of. Matt Ireland found some space on the right hand side after some nice lead up work to slice through and beat the fullback to score his 3rd try of the AAMI Regional Championships. Mitch Cullen made no mistake with the conversion and Newcastle lead 10 - 0 after as many minutes.
The Power gave themselves every chance to reduce the lead after forcing a turnover from the restart. The Power's Kerrod Holland rallied his troops as they went close to putting some points on the board on numerous occasions but it was the Rebels defence that come out top.
They repelled the Power, marched up the other end of the park and with possession in good field position were able to mount significant pressure of their own. A neat little set play between Tom Rouse and Matt Ireland sent Raymond Buchanan through a hole in the middle of the ruck. Buchanan with plenty of work to do beat the fullback to score with the successful conversion extending Newcastle's lead to 16 points to nil. That lead was further extended 2 minutes before half time when Jayden Rosberg offloaded to Matt Ireland who crossed for his second try of the match giving Newcastle a 22 - 0 lead at the break.
The scoring dried up in the early parts of the second half as the match turned into an arm wrestle and after 10 minutes Newcastle all but sealed their win when Jason Savin barged over under the sticks to lead 28 - 0 with 25 minutes left in the match.
With time running out Central Hunter revived their slim hopes of a comeback when work horse Daley Boney crossed for a much deserved four pointer which was converted to reduce the margin back to 22 points. Any hope of a miracle comeback was dashed when Felsie Taufaao offloaded for Ryan Wood who raced 50 metres to score under the posts. A last minute penalty goal to Mitch Cullen round out the scoring and handed Newcastle their first AAMI Country Championship victory since the late 1980's.
Newcastle were further rewarded with a dominant contigent in the Under 18's Country team to tour Queensland later in the year. All in all 8 players were selected in the team announced immediately after the game. Those players named were;
Ben Bradley (Central Newcastle)
Jason Savin (Western Suburbs)
Felise Taufaao (Western Suburbs)
James Elias (Nelson Bay)
Tom Rouse (South Newcastle)
Tom Morton (South Newcastle)
Matt Ireland (South Newcastle)
Mitch Cullen (Kurri Kurri)