The Central North under-14s fell agonisingly short again while the under-12s punched above their weight as the Kookaburras kicked-off the representative season with a strong showing at the Country 12s, 13s and 14s Championships played in Tamworth on the weekend.
Both sides made it through to their respective finals, the 12s going down to Hunter 10-5 while the 14s were defeated by Central West 14-5.
After finishing runners-up in the under-13s last year, the 14s went into the championships with high hopes, and were all over Central West in the first half.
They had them virtually pinned in their half but just rushed things a bit in attack and were unable to turn their dominance into points.
"We just couldn't convert possession and territory into points and unfortunately in such a close game it really hurt us," coach Warren Park said.
Central West came out strongly in the second half, only some great scrambling defence from the Kookaburras keeping them out for as long as they did.
The Kookaburras hit back a minute later through inside centre Ed Montgomery but they were pretty well straight back under siege. The pressure eventually told with Central West kicking ahead again.
"The defence was great all weekend and it was through the game today," Park said.
"Unfortunately our attack didn't quite fire."
They only conceded three tries for the weekend, the other coming in their pool game against Central West, which they won two tries to one.
"They're a gutsy bunch of kids," Park said.
"The distance between us all and the limited time we have had together, they just played fantastically all weekend."
Six of their best were recognised for their efforts with Montgomery and centre partner Don Watkins, fullback Ryan Witherdin, number eight Josh Briggs, second rower Reeve McLean and prop Lachlan Dietrich named in the Country squad
Dietrich was also acknowledged as the Kookaburras' best forward and Montgomery the best back, while Witherdin won the coaches award and Dusty Hagon was adjudged the most improved.
Under-12s coach Chris Fowler said it was an excellent effort from his side over the weekend.
"We were only a smallish side so to get to the final was fantastic," he said.
They were the walking wounded by the final with vice-captains Darcy Hannaford (broken collarbone) and Jock Sides (broken arm) both forced to watch on from the sidelines.
Against a physically bigger Hunter side, they struck first and led 5-nil at half-time, but Hunter outmuscled them in what was a disrupted second half.
The game was moved twice due to injuries. With time not stopped that probably helped Hunter a bit, Fowler said.
"That gave their bigger guys a bit of a rest and they got a bit of a charge up in the second half," he said.
To counter for their lack of size they tried to play an expansive, which worked well.
"They played some good footy, entertaining footy and played as a team," Fowler said.
Jonty Fowler steered them superbly around the park from five-eighth and was duly named the best back of the tournament for the 12s. He was also voted the Kookaburras' players' player.
Ben Sawyer was named best back, James Irons best forward, Ben DiDonna the most improved while Darcy Brazel picked up the coaches award.