Saturday’s Dubbo and District Junior Rugby League (DDJRL) under 13s grand final was a perfect way to end the season for two sides who have battled against each other tremendously all year.
In that game that mattered it was the Nyngan Tigers who were victorious, downing St John’s 28-22 in arguably the standout match of grand final day at Apex Oval.
In a game that twisted and turned from first whistle until last, it was a late try to man of the match Harry Hammond which secured the title for the young Tigers.
“It was awesome,” victorious Nyngan coach Adam Kennedy said.
“That’s how you want a grand final. It was nice and tight and went right to the wire. It was a a brilliant effort from our boys and credit to St John’s.
Nyngan wins! What a game. An injury stopped the game with just two seconds to go and St John’s had one final chance to level it up when things restarted. Nyngan wins an enthralling under 13s #DDJRL grand final. It finishes 28-22. pic.twitter.com/PDZCFZZ6bc— Nick Guthrie (@Nj_Guthrie) September 1, 2018
“They were awesome today and have been all year. They’ve been tough competitors and we’ve had a lot of tough contests against them and luckily we came out on top today.”
With both clubs in action in the bulk of the deciders on Saturday there was a bumper crowd on hand as the two sides ran out.
Nyngan opened the scoring through the impressive Will Black but St John’s hit back in style through Jake Reichelt not long after.
Nyngan again took the lead courtesy of a Braith Boyd try before St John’s hit back again right before half-time with one of the best tries scored on grand final day.
Saints spread it from right-to-left and there was numerous flick passes involved before centre Henry Smith dived over to set up a 12-10 lead at the break.
The lead changed numerous times throughout the second half, Saints halfback and captain Latrell Fing standing tall for his side, and with 15 minutes to go things were locked up at 22-all.
What a try! Someone forgot to tell these kids they’re under 13s! Couple of flick passes as St John’s spreads it to the left and scores through Henry Smith! Fantastic grand final, another try right before the break has Saints leading Nyngan 12-10 at half-time. #DDJRLpic.twitter.com/LnLb37ZZz7— Nick Guthrie (@Nj_Guthrie) September 1, 2018
Both sides gave it everything late on and with the crowd engrossed in the contest, it was the young Tigers who made the all-important breakthrough.
After absorbing a huge amount of pressure, Nyngan worked its way down field and then forced a goal-line drop out.
From that ensuing set, it was barnstorming prop Hammond who crashed over to put his side in front.
Black’s conversion made it 28-22 and while St John’s were valiant and gave it everything late on, the Tigers hung on to claim the premiership.
“There’s a lot of talent in both sides and it was a very high standard for under 13s,” Kennedy said.
“You wouldn’t see a better game of football. It was a very entertaining game and we’re stoked.”
Nyngan won three premierships on DDJRL grand final day and Kennedy was thrilled with his side’s victory.
In a year to remember for the club, Kennedy said it was a special group of young players who he got to lead each week.
“There’s a tight bond. They’ve become really good mates,” he said.
“We’ve got four or five that come from Warren, one form Nevertire and one from Tottenham who travel in and they’ve all come together this year.”