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  • Writer's pictureKent Brockman - Investigative Sports Journalist

MacKillop go back to back against a vastly improved O’Loughlin to retain the Catholic Cup

The MacKillop Saints u14s Boys team defeated a much improved O’Loughlin Catholic College to retain the Catholic Cup for 2021.

The two sides battled it out under scorching conditions at MacKillop Field before a healthy supporter crowd. Prop forward (who seems to believe that he is in fact a centre) Mickey Tilmouth, opened the scoring for the home team after a tightly played opening 10 minutes. Mickey bothered the defence all afternoon with his big frame and dynamic running style, hitting inside lines with damaging effect.

Year 8 utility, Harry Heath, was the next to score for the Saints, diving over the line near to the posts after displaying some very impressive footwork. Heath’s injection into the game created a noticeable lift in attacking flair from the side, midway into the first half. With Heath, Osca Bonar, Jack Miller and an absent Kye Ryan all being excellent halves in the u14s division for the men in Navy and Ochre, a fascinating battle for starting positions in next year’s Eels Cup side will certainly eventuate.

O’Loughlin soon hit back with a well deserved try to hooker, Joey Lewis, which applied pressure to the home team leading into the break. Luckily, middle school captain, Dan Murphy, an ever reliable plug in the centre of the field, managed to get across the line to make the lead a little more comfortable at 18-6.

After the break, the visitors started off strong, taking advice from their experience coach, Mr. Luke Beatty, to flatten their attack and to direct their smaller, more agile men towards the middle of the park to take on MacKillop’s larger forwards. Their team executed these instruction incredibly well and had the Saints scrambling in cover defence early on into the second stanza.

With MacKillop under the pump, Jack Miller took it upon himself to be the difference that would spark the MacKillop machine back into attack mode. Miller, resembling a younger Jonathon Thurston, took on a tiring OCC defence that was sliding with a majestic show and go to slip through the visitor’s line and run 40m to put it down under the posts. At that moment, a valiant OCC could hold on no longer and the flood gates opened, with Taylem Sariago, Osca Bonar, Jack Yewsang and intercept king, Jayden Mick, scoring tries to run the scoreboard up to a 44 – 10 point victory.

Director of Rugby League and stand-in referee, Mr. Matthew Sharp, when asked about his thoughts of the match, said what impressed him most about the match was the ability of the team to take on board instructions and alter their game plan on the run –

‘Coming into the match, we knew we would likely have an advantage in the forwards through the likes of David Stevens, Trent Harvey and Fraser Brown so the instructions were clear – play fast and look for second phase off of these guys to open up our centres. The second phase didn’t really come about though and we played a little too much through the middle with OCC holding up well. The message to then run a few more decoys through the middle and spread the ball wider was heard by our halves and you can see the end results of them being able to execute that plan on the scoreboard’.

The 2021 Catholic Cup featured as the debut game for Riley Heffernan, Ethan McCourt, Cooper Williamson and Zion Lafaele-Selio and every name mentioned had an impact. The MacKillop community will look on with interest as these players develop over the coming years.

Next stop on the Rugby League schedule is the Tiwi Islands with a number of players backing up for the inaugural Tiwi Cup against Tiwi College on Melville Island.

Kent Brockman

Investigative Sports Journalist

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