After an awesome season as minor premiers a somewhat nervous Collaroy Cougars U11 Blacks team arrived at Cliff Oval Wahroonga to play their Grand Final. The turf looked dusty and hard nothing like the lush pastures of their home ground Griffith Park.
It was hot, way too hot for rugby and immediately many of Cougars took their head gear off to play in their biggest match of the season. Their opponents, their dear friends from just down the road, Newport.
On paper the Cougars looked in good stead, they’d won their three games against this teams this season; the trials and then the two home and away games. They were going in as the favourites but as they all knew the Newport team has some stand out players and when they get moving they are very tough to beat.
The crowd supporting this U11 team was huge today filled with mums and dads, sisters and brothers, grandparents, aunties and uncles, friends and plenty of the Collaroy Cougar committee.
It was a big day for Collaroy and everyone was hoping that the result would go the right way.
The Blacks ran on and to be honest the next forty minutes of rugby was a blur, there was plenty of aggression from both teams, some really outstanding football and a heck of a lot of people screaming “come on the Cougars!!”
The game went something like this . . . kick off by the Cougars and in the first tackle Charlie Boyle smashed his opponent to the ground to show the team meant business.
It started rough and tumble and with a few more hits by our forwards, we gained possession of the ball. As usual Hunter started the play to the back line, Coleman passed to Jasper, quick hands to Charlie and the ball made its way out to Alby on the wing. Alby made a sensational run for the line but got caught just metres away. The forwards got ready, the props Jake and Jacob knew it was try time and they protected Harvee as he nestled and pushed his way through to score the Cougars first points.
The nerves settled and the boys looked in control for a moment, Zane moving swiftly through the opposition, finding the spaces and Luke the Bear Duffel was making his mark in the ruck. The boys got the ball out into the hands of Hunter, the Cougar U11 Black Captain and through he went for the next try.
Two trys up everyone was feeling a lot better for just a wee moment. Newport kicked off and it went long and into touch. The Cougars had possession but they were very close to their own line and as they gutsily tried to move forward the Newport defence was shutting them down fast. The boys still looked good and out the ball went through the backs until . . . a great intercept by Newport. It happened too quick. In went Newport to score their final try.
The battle went back and forwards, Newport had possession again but then the referee decided he didn’t like something about what the Cougar Black’s were doing in the ruck. They got penalised once twice, penalised three times. . . the Cougars couldn’t win a trick. There were so many penalties against them that they nearly ended up on the next field. They couldn’t fight Newport’s momentum and in Newport went for their next try. 12-10 to Newport as the half time buzzer sounded.
I’m not sure what Super Coach John Robati said to his players at half time but everyone knew it would have been the rev up of a lifetime. These boys had not come here to lose.
On they ran with new gusto and on the attack they went. Set play, after set play. Big runs by Jacob with Jake and Isaac pushing the play forward. Luke showing his strength and power and Bede showing speed. Down the back line it went again Hunter, Coleman, Charlie Cranch, Charlie Boyle, Josh. Josh’s incredible swiftness took the ball forward as again as he had many times through the game.
Nerves were racked as Newport threw everything they had at the Blacks. Newport had the ball again but strong rucking forced a knock on and then with a nice set play by the Cougars the ball went out to quick step Charlie Boyle who ducked weaved and flew through to the try line. A conversion from out the front by Charlie Cranch and the Blacks were back in the game.
The Cougars kept the momentum going but this was hard footy and the Newport team weren’t giving up for a second. Every Cougar Black member was playing their little hearts out. There were tears at tiny mistakes, emotions were running high. Coleman made a break and ran, the team kept pushing towards that line. And it was not far, it was time for Cougars big man Jake to do his stuff and he trampled through Newport to score the next try.
Bernard Foley would have missed the next conversion but the Cougar Black’s Charlie Cranch didn’t. 24 points to 12 points to the Cougars, someone said ring the hooter but there was still ten minutes to go.
Newport kept pushing, they weren’t giving up without a fight and through they went on the far side of the field to score the intercept try, 24 points to 18. Newport, all of a sudden, had all the momentum. The boys from Collaroy kept fighting but there wasn’t much left. The hooter sounded Newport had the ball and they weren’t stopping yet. The Cougars were finding it hard to stop their play. It kept going and going and going. Newport was now on the 50 metre line one false move and it was not going to be pretty. The Cougars got back possession and out it went to Jasper who booted the ball out of play.
It was over, they had won!! Collaroy Cougar Blacks 24 points to Newport 19.
Well done boys on a terrific season of rugby you’ve done yourselves and the Club proud. Huge thanks to Supercoach John Robati and his support team, Kevin Duffel, Nathan Miller and Phil Cranch.
Today, magic happened for 14 boys who through Collaroy Cougar’s Rugby have become the best of friends. It’s moments like today that will be cherished forever.
To all Collaroy Cougars Rugby players, parents and the Collaroy Rugby Committee, thanks for all the good times in 2017 . . . we hope that you enjoy the off season on the beach and we will see you all back ready for some more rugby magic in 2018.