The inaugural Northern Eagles Junior Championships were held in Taree over the weekend of January 20-21 . An impressive 56 teams from the region and across New South Wales attended the event in beautiful conditions at the Taree Touch Association Fields.
The majority of teams that participated in the competition were using the event as part of their preparation for the upcoming Junior State Cup which will be held from 16th-18th of February in Port Macquarie. For those teams within the Northern Eagles Region it also doubled as an opportunity to show the regional selectors their capabilities with the selections imminent after the Junior State Cup for the cherished Northern Eagles jersey. Teams from Taree, Macksville, Port Macquarie, Ballina and Forster Tuncurry competed throughout.
While Parramatta, Peninsula, Newcastle and Singleton sent teams on the Saturday bringing their Junior State Cup teams and/or junior development teams.
The Sunday finals were hotly contested between the for regional pride and most importantly a boost in confidence. Two grand finals brought the crowds to their feet with the 16 Boys and 18 Boys needing a drop off to separate them. The Taree Flames 16 Boys scored the decisive touchdown to defeat Port Makos 6-5 in their drop off whilst in the 18 boys Grand Final, the Flames once again claiming victory in the drop off surrounded by a big crowd to watch the final play. Both teams performances were highly impressive and would have ertainly sent a warning to their opposition leading into Junior State Cup.
The Macksville Falcons were dominant in the 18 girls competition, claiming the championship 6 touchdowns to 2 over the Taree Flames. On the Saturday they also drew 3 all with the Junior State Cup 18 Girls defending champions the Parramatta Eels in the round games. The Falcons also claimed victory in the 10 Girls Division and the 14 Girls Division. The Falcons 10 Girls won the Grand Final 4-3 over the Port Makos, and the 14 Girls defeated the Taree Flames 7-4 to win their Grand Final.
Port Makos claimed the 16 Girls with a comprehensive win over the Taree Flames 6 Touchdowns to 1. The Taree Flames however had 8 teams feature in the main games of the day. Taree Flames were also crowned champions in the 10 Boys, defeating Macksville 5 touchdowns to 2. 12 Boys, defeating Port Makos 3 touchdowns to 2, and the 12 Girls defeating the Port Makos 2 touchdowns to nil.
The Flames capped off a successful tournament after they were awarded the Club Championship, winning a total of 6 championships and having 2 teams finish runners up.
Event Organiser Matt Nelson said the competition was a huge success. “The weekend was a massive success, the competition ran very smoothly and all Associations were happy and are looking forward to next years event. A big thankyou to all Associations, Team Management, Players, Referees, Selectors, Parents and NSW Touch Football Officials.” Nelson said.
Nelson also sees the competition having a bright future. “Northern Eagles Executive will sit down and discuss future plans in relation to the event in May. With the response we have had it’s a matter of how to make the event bigger and have more Affiliates involved in the future.”
Nelson also believes the Eagles teams will fair well at this February’s Junior State Cup. “There is some very competitive Affiliate teams across the 10’s – 18’s divisions. The Pool draw allocation has a lot to do with end results at Junior State Cup. Having to finish high in your Pool to progress and not having the option of Bowls and Plates as in Senior State Cup it’s pretty much a one-shot deal in the end. They’ll be competitive”
Special mention must be made to the referees who were fantastic once again and are a testament to the Northern Eagles region. All players, Coaches and spectators showed plenty of Refspect over the weekend.
All results can be viewed here