Following massive performances in Central West’s fourth finish at last weekend’s NSW Country Junior Rugby Union Under-14 Championship at Armidale, Orange City’s Ollie Connaughton, Emus’ Dougie Phillipson and Dubbo’s Nosa Obaseki all won Junior Cockatoos gigs.
Phillipson was named the tournament’s best back while Connaughton and Obaseki were superb for the Baby Bulls, the side was beaten comfortably by New England in Sunday’s third-place play-off, though through no lack of effort.
The Baby Bulls did open the scoring but it was one-way traffic, in New England’s favour, from then until basically the final whistle.
The hosts scored three first-half tries and another two in the second period before Central West crossed for a consolation try in the dying stages, making the final score 27-12.
The third-place play-off appearance came after wins over Mid North Coast (17-7) and Central North (41-0), a 31-0 loss to eventual champions Illawarra and a 26-7, semi-final loss to Hunter.
Central West’s under 12s and under 13s both finished third, defeating Central North and Far North Coast in their respective third-play play-offs.
The under 12s – a side featuing Orange City’s Temana Te Rupe and Andrew Ingham along with Emus’ Jack Holland, Henry Cooney, Paddy Toberty, Gus Tremain, Gus Cornish, Daniel Vaotangi and Johannes Logan – edged out Central North 19-12 in a thrilling play-off.
The under-12 Baby Bulls were resigned to the third-place play-off after a tight 17-7 loss in the semi-final to eventual champions Illawarra, and that final four appearance came after preliminary wins over Far North Coast (21-0) and Mid North Coast (15-0) and a 17-7 loss to Hunter.
Central West’s under 13s were actually considered the title favourites by many after an undefeated preliminary campaign.
Led by Orange City’s Patrick Haydon, Jake Phillpott and Hamish Ingham and Emus’ Campbell Warburton and Ethan Shaw, the under-13 Baby Bulls outfit edged past Far North Coast (12-5), Mid North Coast (39-0) and Hunter (21-0) to top the standings leading into the semi-final.
Central West faced Central North in the semi-final, and sadly went down 21-5.
The Baby Bulls then hammered Far North Coast 40-0 in the bronze medal game, while Central North was beaten 34-25 by Illawarra in the decider.
That rounded out Illawarra’s stunning triple crown across the three age groups, wins that go along with the zone’s women’s 15-a-side country championship win, girls’ under-17 triumph and the Illawarriors’ Caldwell Cup win too.
Central West made it through to the final of the girls’ under-15 championship, but was taken down by Central North, losing 39-5.
Central West will try to stop the powerhouse zone taking out the under-15 and under-16 titles this weekend, both those tournaments are being played at Bathurst’s Ashwood Park.