Rugby Union: Central North juniors and girls shine at Country Championships

Another strong Country Championship showing from Central North’s junior and girls’ teams has yielded another haul of Country selections.

Backing up from the U16s runner-up effort, the Kookaburras U17s and U17s girl’s sides both reached the finals of their respective championships.

Showing some great skill and heart, and playing some cracking rugby over the weekend, the Kookaburra girls fell just short of winning the first-ever Girls 10’s Country Championships, going down to Illawarra in the final.

They won all three of their games on the Saturday before stumbling against Illawarra in their final pool game on Sunday morning, and then again in the final.

For the 17s boys, it was Central Coast that denied them, with the coastal side prevailing 24-12 in the final to claim the silverware.

The Kookaburras’ efforts didn’t go unrewarded with Pirates’ Doughal O'Reilly, Inverell’s Brady Mather, Farrers’ James Roach and Tamworth’s Sam Gray being named in the Country squad.

Narrabri’s Will Morley, meanwhile, earned selection in the Country 18s squad, while Miah O'Sullivan, Molly Kennedy and Phoebe McLoughlin received call-ups to the girls Country side.

U17s coach Murray Lang extolled his sides never give up attitude.

“The boys just didn’t stop. Whether they were holding the ascendancy or behind they didn’t stop,” he said.

That was best summed up in their last game on Saturday against Central Coast.

“It was 0-all at half-time. We unfortunately then got two red-cards, which made things difficult and we fell behind. But we came back to only lose by a try.”

It was a similar story in the final, which was a “gritty and hard game”, and saw the Kookaburras trailing by four tries at one stage before fighting back to within 12 points.

“In the second half we won three tight heads in a row,” Lang said.

Like the 16s the previous weekend, it was their best-ever effort.

“Overall we’ve done another one better than last year. We’re slowly progressing. From fourth to third and now second,” Lang said.

Centre Zac Parker was named the Kookaburras most-improved and breakaway Hagan Size the most consistent, while Lochie Urquhart was adjudged the most consistent for the 18s and Adam Wallace the most improved.