The 2018 Group 16 Minor Rugby League season drew to a close last Saturday when the Bega Minor League Club hosted the Grand Finals at the Bega Recreation Ground. A high quality of local talent was on display and with representation in four of the six finals matches the Bega Roosters and Chicks did not disappoint, coming away with three out of four grand final premierships. This is a tremendous achievement for the Club which has grown in numbers and strength over the last two years.
It was a fantastic start for the Bega Club on Saturday with their 10-12 League Tag girls shocking the previously undefeated 2018 Group 16 Best Percentage team, Narooma, and their fans, with an outstanding performance. The mighty little side blew their opposition away with the whole team lifting and contributing to the performance. Coach Mel Armstrong said the return of Summer Norris from injury towards the end of the season certainly made a difference to the Bega side giving them go forward. The girls had to win their last competition game of the season, against Moruya-Tuross, to even make the finals and from this point onwards never looked back - catching all teams they came up against by surprise including Narooma. Coach Armstrong said “We prepared to perfection and aimed up on their big guns. They had no answer as we piled on the points with ease, winning 26 points to 6”. Tries went to Maddie Cullen 2, with Summer Norris, Payten Collins and Shakira Dummett scoring one each. Goals to Jasmin Constance, Lydia Weber and Scarlett Norris increased the tally for the side even more. Bega’s fullback Maddie Cullen was rewarded for her brilliant finals series and was named Grand final Player of the Match. The Bega team have now taken home the Kezie Apps Shield for the 2nd year running and were thrilled to receive a lovely video message from the former Bega player wishing them luck prior to kick off.
The Bega Roosters Under 12s were the next team to take the field in their grand final clash against rivals and Minor Premiers the Merimbula-Pambula Bulldogs in front of a massive crowd with a keen interest in this local derby. The Bega boys jumped out to an early lead with some clever play from playmakers Rory Deighton and Jasper Kelly paving the way for tries from big centre Sam Griffin and young talented forward Braedy Armstrong. However, the Bulldogs hit back hard with a few long-range tries from deep in their own half and this locked the game up at 12 all at half time. Although Bega’s Sam Andy was dominant in attack in the second half with some hard, straight running and gained some decent field position, unfortunately some poor ball handling saw Bega fail to complete the opportunities. With ten minutes remaining the Bulldogs had jumped out to a 28-12 lead but the Bega boys were desperate to stay in the game. After what appeared to be a few hard refereeing calls against them when the game started swinging their way again Bega finally scored through Sam Lever, however with just minutes remaining on the clock it really was just a consolation try with a final score of 28 points to 18. Although Coach Norm Griffin was very proud of the performance from his younger side he also agreed that the better team won on the day. Bega Captain, Sam Griffin, said he was disappointed with the result but congratulated his side on a super year of footy. He also gave thanks to all the coaches and support crew and in a further show of sportsmanship and respect also congratulated the Bulldogs on their great win.
The Under 14s clash between the Bega Roosters and the Batemans Bay Tigers was also highly anticipated by the Bega crowd with the local team the favourites after an incredible year, their only loss being the first match of the season. The team have had bare minimum numbers (with no reserves) so to win the premiership in extra time was a tremendous effort from these 13 boys, their Coach Pete Wheatley and his assistant Matt Carr. A task was set for the Under 14s to stop the Tiger’s massive forward Jahream Lole-Ngarima and that they did, only allowing him to cross the line twice. The return of Anson Charlebois was an enormous boost for Bega in the forwards while Oscar Carr was also a standout in defence. Dylan Campbell was dangerous every time he touched the ball, however it was the speed of Liam Kelly that got the Bay on the back foot and he was a very well-deserved recipient of Player of the Match in his best performance of the year. Josh Whitby scored 2 tries, Lachlan O’Brien 1 and a conversion by Matt Wheatley, however it was Issac Willington who sealed the victory in extra time due to an excellent kick chase from Bailey Caldwell, with final score of 18 points to 14.
After the excitement of the Golden point victory to Bega’s Under 14s side the crowd was anxious for the finale of the day, the Under 16s Grand Final between Bega and Narooma. This match was predicted by the opposition to be a comfortable victory as they had won all previous encounters against the Bega boys. However, the Devils coaching staff should not have under-estimated the talent of their opposing coaches, James Duncan and Blake Grant, who are young and talented footballers themselves. Both Duncan and Grant have recently competed in their own grand finals and know how to win the one that counts. They had their team primed for game day and their young protégés played out of their skins. Duke Creary had his best game of the year and he was well supported by Ronny Richards and Angus Ashcroft in the forwards. In the backs Finlay Geoghegan got on top of Narooma’s big Centre recruit from the Raiders, Thomas Gaffey, and this made for a very quiet second half for Gaffey. In the backs Joven Heycox-Pittman and Tyler King made many game changing breaks and Bill McMahon’s impact from the bench was inspiring. With Jack McCoy’s leadership and talk it soon became obvious that the Roosters were not going down without a fight and appeared to want it more than the opposition. Victory never looked in doubt once Jovan Heycox-Pittman crossed for his second try for Bega, aptly converted by Clay Ellison, taking the score to 28-16. Earlier tries were scored by Noah Murray, Matthew Troy and Finlay Geoghegan with Captain Clay Ellison converting four from five. Jordan Balcomb had another outstanding game for the Roosters, however, after a fantastic season the Player of the Grand Final went to a well-deserved Captain in Clay Ellison.
Players, coaches, volunteers and committee members are congratulated for their contributions to this fantastic season for Bega Minor Rugby League and it is expected that the success will continue with the strength of junior and mini players coming through. Club officials were particularly thrilled for the Under 16s players claiming a premiership in their final game of junior league and wish them continued success as they move into the senior league competition next year. The Presentation evening will be held on Friday September 21 at the Bega Recreation Ground from 5pm. Please keep an eye out for AGM details also.