- April O’Neil – Reporting Correspondent
The Palmerston Cup Returns to Johnston
The MacKillop Saints Open Boys Rugby League team defeated Palmerston College 36 – 14 to bring the City of Palmerston Cup home to MacKillop. The match was played in typical fashion, with both sides playing tough football in front of a huge crowd at MacKillop Field with supporters from both teams in attendance. After the full time siren sounded, Mayor of Palmerston, Athena Pascoe-Bell was on hand to present the Cup to MacKillop team captain, Nathan Dixon, who played in his final game for the college that afternoon.
Despite the final score line, it was a close opening half with Palmerston College first to busy the scorers thanks to a penalty goal kicked from 20m out following a MacKillop high tackle in the 6th minute. The Saints were soon to strike back after some scrappy play with both teams taking loose carries, when Kayden Heikkinen crashed over the try line in the 8th minute, finishing off a short-side raid. From here points flowed with Palmerston breaching the Saints defensive line Brandon Norris and Nathan Dixon both scored to give MacKillop an 18 - 14 half time lead.
To escape the scorching heat, head coach, Mr. Matthew Sharp, turned the air conditioned orchestra pit in the Music Room into a makeshift dressing shed for his halftime address. Coach Sharp referenced the errors MacKillop made that led to Palmerston points and told his players to play with a little less haste and a little more structure and with that, the points will eventually come. Captain Nathan Dixon delivered a similar message to his troops, with Saints Old Boy, Liam Kennedy even getting a couple of words in as well.
MacKillop burst out of the gates in the second half with Brandon Norris scoring two tries in quick succession to take his personal tally to three for the afternoon. Norris has been dominant at schoolboy level this season between the 16s and Opens, displaying MVP form. Shortly after Norris’ hattrick, wide-running second row forward, Jett Wilson, ran a perfect unders line, evading several defenders along the way to a highlight reel runaway try. Remarkably, super boot, Beau Ryan, kicked a perfect 6/6 conversions for the afternoon.
In the earlier fixtures, Saints Middle School Girls defeated the visitors 20 – 4 with Eva Kay starring with two tries for the afternoon. Timika Miller and Natalia Grant were also at their usual best and were well-supported by the constantly improving Molly Suradi. Hannah Burgoyne was another who impressed, leading the forward pack with courage. Campbell Stolberg was mentioned as a standout performer in the u14s game that was a much tighter affair. Osca Bonar and Max Antella were amongst the players who crossed the try line in a 20 – 14 victory to the home side.
Special mention to Izyiah Pairama, Anthony McMah, Reyonce Reyes and Shirlee-Ann Norris who were remarkable in their volunteer service throughout the day.
April O’Neil – Reporting Correspondent