An NYC Cowboys-laden Townsville Stingers are this year’s under-18 national champions thanks to a comprehensive 36-14 win against the Sydney Roosters at 1300SMILES Stadium this afternoon.
After clinching the Mal Meninga Cup as Queensland champions a fortnight ago, the Stingers were dominant from the start, especially in the forwards battle, against the SG Ball winners from New South Wales, and eventually scored seven tries to three.
Back-rowers Coen Hess and Jordan Kenworthy both scored doubles, while winger Gideon Mosby-Gela, who opened the scoring by flashing in down the right in the sixth minute, ended up winning the man-of-the-match award for a brilliant attacking display.
Townsville led 18-0 after crossing for the game’s first four tries and only conceded right on half time when Roosters winger Johnny Tuivasa-Scheck found his way over following a kick on the final tackle of the half.
Kenworthy’s first try, a weaving run from 15m out, arrived two minutes after the break and the result was just about secured when he grabbed his second through some soft Roosters defence following a 70-metre dash down the wing by Mosby-Gela.
Winger Richie Munchow bagged the Stingers’ final try off a fortunate rebound to make it 34-10.
Townsville’s starting lineup contained 10 NYC Cowboys, including co-captains Cooper Bambling and Regan Grieve, as well as Mosby-Gela, Kenworthy, Hess, fullback Jesse Pomare-Anderson, centre Sam Smith, five-eighth Ty Carucci, and props Kurt De Luis and Nick Brown.
Hess and Bambling have already made their under-20s debuts in their first year with the NYC program and more are sure to follow in coming weeks.
Interchange forward Tyrone Pritchard is also a member of North Queensland’s under-20s, while Munchow, centre Rhein Frank and hooker Calum Gahan hold junior contracts with the club.
In the under-16s national final, Newcastle scored the last three tries of a see-sawing match to turn a 12-point deficit into a 34-28 victory against Northern Pride.
The Harold Matthews winners from NSW led 16-6 midway through the second before the Cairns-based Cyril Connell Cup champions went on a 22-0 point-scoring spree, including a double to forward Brett Anderson.
However they barely had a touch of the ball in the final 15 minutes as the Knights recovered largely thanks to the combination of fullback Matt Cooper and man-of-the-match Brendan O’Hagan.
The Pride almost snatched a late try after recovering the kick off following Cooper’s second four-pointer.
They were held up over the line and then gave away a penalty for obstruction on the next tackle to allow the Knights to claim the national title.
UNDER-18s: TOWNSVILLE STINGERS 36 (Coen Hess 2, Jordan Kenworthy 2, Gideon Mosby-Gela, Richie Munchow, Kurt De Luis tries; Cooper Bambling 4 goals) def SYDNEY ROOSTERS 16 (Johnny Tuivasa-Scheck, Poasa Foamausili, Shiem Fuimaono tries; Paul Momorovski 2 goals).
UNDER-16s: NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS 34 (Matt Cooper 2, Brendan O’Hagan 2, Heath Gibbs, Samuel McIntyre tries; Brendan O’Hagan 5 goals) def NORTHERN PRIDE 28 (Brett Anderson 2, Michael Carroll, Dion Wales, Kornylius Tuimauga tries; Jake Clifford 4 goals).