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  • Writer's pictureApril O’Neil – Reporting Correspondent

Saints Triumph Over O'Loughlin in 2023 Catholic Cup Showdown

In a thrilling match that showcased the best of NT schoolboy rugby league talent, the MacKillop Saints U16 Boys Rugby League team emerged victorious in the annual Catholic Cup contest, defeating sister-school rivals O'Loughlin Catholic College 30 to 10.

Daniel Murphy kick-started the scoring frenzy by expertly splitting the OCC defense with an elusive sprint that culminated in a try under the posts. Murphy's outstanding performance throughout the match earned him the coveted MVP award for best on ground that day. Meanwhile, 'super-boot'. Deacon Summerville, showcased his goal kicking accuracy by nailing several conversions, many of which were from the sideline.

Among the standout players was Kole Heikkinen, a 14-year-old talent who shone in the second row. Heikkinen's performance not only helped secure the Saints' victory but also marked his second victory in this prestigious competition. With another opportunity to compete next year, Heikkinen is determined to strive for a rare Catholic Cup 'three-peat'.

With this victory, the Saints have established an unparalleled legacy in the Catholic Cup, winning every game in this competition since 2015. This success further solidifies their reign as the team to beat and cements their status as rugby league powerhouses among sporting schools in the Northern Territory.

Marley Carter, Harry Heath, and Jaxon Boulton were among the other standout players who crossed the try line during the intense contest, showcasing their skills and contributing to the Saints' win.

Head Coach Mr. Matthew Sharp expressed his satisfaction with the team's performance and noted the opportunity the game provided for up-and-coming players like Jason Curyer and Tinashe Matadi to play in new positions alongside veteran players like Harry Heath and Will McCallum. Coach Sharp further emphasized the significance of the Catholic Cup, remarking on how St. John's and OCC had previously shared the trophy before it found a permanent home at MacKillop in recent years.

Looking ahead, the U16s team remains undefeated in 2023 but faces tough challenges in the upcoming Palmerston Cup against Palmerston College. They will also have a rematch in the Academy Cup against Taminmin College, following their previous two encounters in the Eels Cup qualifying rounds and Grand Final respectively. Coach Sharp expressed confidence in the team's abilities while acknowledging the strength of the competition.

Coach Sharp also highlighted the commendable performances of OCC's Nate Jarrett-Wright and James Obina, whom he had coached during the NT Titans U15s Australian Schoolboys tournament in 2022. He lauded their dominant presence in the middle of the park, which played a crucial role in keeping OCC in the contest. Their contest against formidable players like Marley Carter and TJ Van Der Walt from the Saints team may have served as an audition for representative honors in the current local club league season.

The Saints administration would like to extend their gratitude to NRL Northern Territory for their support in officiating the match. In particular, to referee Zackary Knott who exhibited exceptional control over the game, reminiscent of a young Bill Harrigan, ensuring a fair and thrilling contest for both teams.

The 2023 Catholic Cup clash between the MacKillop Saints and O'Loughlin Catholic College will be remembered as an exhilarating display of talent, teamwork, and sportsmanship. As the Saints u16s Boys continue their undefeated streak through 2023, fans eagerly anticipate their future matches and the impressive achievements that lie ahead for this exceptional team.

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