A Rugby League rivalry is growing in the New England as Inverell retained the Representative Challenge Shield on Wednesday at Armidale’s Rugby League Park.
The shield has the best schoolboys from public schools in Inverell play the best from Armidale, with 10 schools represented across four age groups from U13s to U16s.
The carnival is part of the Armidale and District Schools Gold Coast Titans development program with the best players being selected to go into further development with the NRL club.
Now in its fourth year the competition is growing in strength and interest according to North West Rugby League convener Tim Polson.
“In 2011 and 2012 Armidale were victorious but last year and today Inverell were dominant,” Polson said.
“We are hoping to develop in the future to include a Tamworth and Glen Innes/Tenterfield side.”
This year Inverell took out three of the four age groups.
River Melia scored three tries for Inverell in the U13s, although Armidale flyer Roderick Ahoy answered with three of his own. Inverell ran away with it in the second half to win 30-12 and get Inverell on the front foot.
Armidale hit back in the 14s with a convincing 30-12 victory.
Armidale’s James Hargrave received the match ball and stood out along with Brandon Murphy and Milton Smith.
NSW CHS representative KC Edmonds showed his class in the U15s with the rangy second rower-lock leading Inverell to a resounding 46-16 win.
Nathan Giles and Nick House also played well while in a one-sided affair Elija Rasiga, Dylan Keaton and Kyle Smith fought hard until the whistle.
The U16s was a much closer affair that saw only one try in the first half for Armidale to lead 4-nil, before Inverell turned it on to grind out a 16-8 upset.
Inverell fullback Corey Alexander had a great game in both attack and defence at the back to take the game ball, while five-eight Jack Jefferies also played a large role in turning the game around to set up the win.
Armidale’s Cameron Killen shone in his first game at hooker in his first year of league, and was joined by Braydon Turner as Armidale’s best.
The best players in the U16s have been selected to play a game in Ballina against Coombabah State School.
They are associated with the Gold Coast Titans and four New England players will be selected from that game to trial for a place in the Titans program.
The top 20 players from the carnival aged between 14 and 16 will be put through an intensive training program.
“We got quite a large crowd this year and the boys put on a great exhibition of rugby league,” Polson said.