Today at Goodline Park, the MacKillop Saints U16 girls side fielded two teams in the inaugural Meg Ward Cup 9s competition.
In testing conditions with high temperatures and thick humidity, both Saints teams showed great courage and perseverance in playing multiple times during the competition.
MacKillop Saints Ochre started their day in Pool B, opening their tournament with a match against the future grand finalists, a mixed side of girls, many of whom were at the carnival representing SEDA College. Following that, tough match-ups against Taminmin College and Good Shepherd College we played in terrific spirit to conclude the initial pool games. From there, Saints Ochre tried extremely hard but unfortunately were knocked out of the competition in the quarter finals by a bigger and more experienced Palmerston Senior College side.
Fill in assistant coach for the day, Mr. Matthew Sharp commented on how proud he was of Saints Ochre for their efforts on the day, quoting:
‘Saints Ochre were a side made up of a lot of our junior talent and lacked the size and experience of some of the other sides they faced during the carnival. Regardless, no matter what challenges Saints Ochre experienced in the competition, all the girls faced them with bravery and conviction and did themselves and their team proud. With the majority of this side being able to compete at the carnival again next year, if we can keep this squad together and training, we will come back more experienced as a team and have a real shot at taking out the title next season’.
Sharp highly praised Kelly Burt for her standout performances throughout the carnival for Saints Ochre, adding that her impressive showings prove that you don’t have to be the biggest to be the best on a rugby league team. Although mentioning that he was full of praise for all players, other standouts Sharp mentioned included Cecila Shoniwa and Erica Savage who never stopped in the middle of the park and Reyonce Reyes who improved greatly as the day progressed.
MacKillop Saints Blue found themselves starting their day in Pool A with match-ups against the Palmerston Senior College and Taminmin A sides. Saints Blue beat Taminmin A in their opening match of the day before going down to Palmerston Senior College in the later pool game. Shanoah Leedie was a standout performer in both games before coming off hurt with a shoulder injury which sadly ended her impressive outing.
Saints Blue went on to face Taminmin again in a tough quaterfinals showdown. Saints Blue found themselves up by one try at half time thanks largely to multi-try hero, Latoya McCoy who terrorised the Taminmin defence with her jet-like speed and elusive stepping. Latoya, along with Lavinia Norris and Tiana Sariago really set the tone of play early in the second half which led to Saints Blue going up by another try early on and from there they were never caught again on the scoreboard, booking a place in the semifinals against the mixed-SEDA team.
Unfortunately due to a scheduling anomaly, Saints Blue had to immediately re-take the field after the hard fought quarterfinal game to face a much fresher mixed outfit who had the benefit of a break. The fact that Saints Blue had to play back-to-back finals in very trying conditions contributed to injury and heat exhaustion for many players but despite these struggles they all still managed to put in gutsy performances. Saints Blue eventually went down to the mixed outfit, ending their day out at the Meg Ward Cup.
Girls head coach, Mrs. Mandy Mattison, spoke highly of all the girls who participated in the Meg Ward Cup today noting that many had backed up from playing Saints rugby union the night before too. In addition to those mentioned previously, Coach Mattison gave credit to Taylah Eichmann and Georgia White who played at a consistently high standard throughout the day as well as youngsters Ana Malupo-Lynch and Sophie Berry who made plenty of metres out wide all carnival. Coach Mattison was extremely proud of the way all the girls represented MacKillop Catholic College and is looking forward to all Saints female players continuing training, and building on the positive momentum created at this carnival and to use it to set the tone for the rest of the rugby league season.
Trainer Michelle Mills must also be thanked for her help preparing the girls for the carnival and also for being an ever-reliable presence behind the scenes for the Saints girls team.
Attention now turns to the NT Titans selectors who were present at the grounds today and actively scouting for their U16s campaign later this year. We eagerly await to hear their selections and wish all MacKillop girls the best of luck in their endeavours to make this representative squad.