Hunter Valley Junior Season Wraps Up
The HVJRL 2010 season has wrapped up in fine fashion with the sun shining on some spectatcular grand finals over the weekend...
With 6 venues playing host to the Under 13's to Under 18's titles the action was well spread across the region from Singleton's Cook Park to the Maitland Sportsground to the revamped St John's Oval in Charlestown.
In the Under 13's 1st Division decider the undefeated East Maitland Griffins took on Valentine at Maitland Sportsground.
Valentine went into the match with an 0 - 3 season record against the Griffins but were never too far away from them throughout the year with the largest margin between the two sides just 10 points. With both sides full of talented young players the match lived up to its high expectations with Valentine overcoming their winless record to knock off the favourites winning the match that matters most by 23 points to 6.
In all Coalfield's Under 15's Division 1 grand final the defending premiers Cessnock were playing in their third straight HVJRL 1st division decider while their opponents East Maitland were playing in their debut 1st division competition. The Griffins had previously stepped up from 3rd division in 2008 to 2nd division last season before progressing to the premier competition in 2010.
Extraordinarily, the two teams battled out two regular season draws against each other before East Maitland broke the deadlock in advancing into the grand final courtesy of a 6 point victory in the major semi final. Cessnock had to go through the hard way and did just that with a convincing 28 points to 6 win over Central Charlestown in the preliminary final to set up the mouth watering finale.
And a mouth watering display it was with both sides trading points for much of the game. The Griffins held a slender 6 point margin going into the last 15 minutes and looked like they may have faltered when halfback Blake Huddleston was sent to the sin bin for dissent leaving them with 12 players for almost the remainder of the game. The Goannas, with the advantage threw everything at them but the defence of Easts held strong with some handling errors crippling the Goannas charge toward their second consecutive title. In what was ultimately the final nail in the Goannas coffin the Griffins crossed for another try through big Dan Killen while still a man short and with the conversion successful from wide out the margin got out to a game high 12 points. When Huddleston returned to the field just 3 minutes remaining in the season for both sides the Griffins were able to hang on to an impressive 34 points to 22 victory. The Griffins hooker Jarrod Smith was well rewarded for an outstanding display taking the game ball as man of the match.
Most judges throughout the season expected the defending premiers and undefeated Western Suburbs to be too strong in the post season for the Under 14's 1st division competition but an upset in the major semi final saw Belmont North qualify first. The preliminary final didn't go to script either with the Knights legend Marc Glanville coached South Newcastle ruining the Rosellas plans for back to back titles handing them their second consecutive defeat in a nail biter at Harker Oval.
Belmont North and South Newcastle took to St John's Oval in front of a crowd of around 2000 people and put on a show which enthused every specator in the house.
There was nothing between the two sides for much of the game with the exception of the brilliant touches of South Newcastle centre Tevita Pangai. The recently signed Newcastle Knight had a hand in most and scored a double in a dominant performance that led his team to a 24 points to 12 victory over the Sharks.
South Newcastle went back to back in premiership deciders at St John's Oval with the Lions' outclassing Lakes United 26 points to 18 in the Under 16's 1st Division finale.
In almost the exact same circumstances to that of the Under 15's match at Maitland Sportsground the Lions had to hang on for 10 minutes while they had a player in the sin bin with only 15 minutes left in the match. To make things even tougher it was their workhorse front rower who up to that point was clearly the best player on the park in a tough dominant display as he lead from the front.
The Lions opened the scoring with a try next to the sticks and were in control for much of the match and despite a late charge from the Seagulls hung on to win by 8 points.
The Under 17's grand final was a battle of the heavyweights from the West. West Newcastle took on their Western counterparts of Maitland with both teams scattered with representative players. West Newcastle took the ascendancy into the match as they qualified first due to a come from behind win against West Maitland in the Major Semi Final leaving West Maitland to bounce back against Nelson Bay just to qualify...and qualify they did. They put the cleaners through an outclassed Nelson Bay in the preliminary final and went into grand final week full of confidence.
The early parts of the game reiterated what was expected...a tough encounter with neither side willing to give an inch. After 15 minutes of the first half West Newcastle led 6 points to 0 courtesy of a converted try to clever halfback Ryan Walsh but that was as close as they got.
West Maitland pilled on an unbelievable 52 unaswered points as they ravaged the Rosellas in the most dominant grand final win seen in Newcastle in decades. The final score could have been significantly worse with the goal kicking boots of West Maitland being left on the other side of the Hexham Bridge with only 4 conversions successful from the 11 attempts.
The Under 18's Division 1 match was the last of the day at St John's Oval and was another game that featured South Newcastle as they attempted to make it 3 wins from as many matches for the club on the day at Charlestown. They faced a West Newcastle side that had just witnessed their 17 year old club mates put to the sword by a classy West Maitland but the events from the previous match had no impact on the Rosellas.
Wests had to do it the hard way after losing to Souths in the Qualifying Semi Final. The Rosellas won elimination matches against Wyong and minor premiers Kurri Kurri to advance whilst South Newcastle after their win over Wests accounted for Kurri Kurri to advance into the grand final with the week off.
The week off can sometimes be a hinderance and it certainly proved to the case on this occasion as the Lions struggled to keep pace with a white hot Western Suburbs.
Sam Basa overcame the disaapointment of injury ruining his part in the Newcastle Rebels historic victory in the Under 18's Country Regional Championships earlier this year by scoring a try for the Rosellas as they went on to record a 30 points to 14 victory over the arch rivals South Newcastle.
For all results of this season's Hunter Valley Junior Rugby League competitions follow the link from the home page to the HVJRL website.