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It’s going to be a great finals series in the Under 16s CHJRL according to the coaches.  Here they reminisce about the season, ponder the highlights and the challenges they have faced and acknowledge the efforts of their volunteer helpers. 

Brad Roberts, coach of Minor Premiers Clermont Bears is very happy with the success the boys have had on the field.  “The boys set themselves a goal at the start of the year to be competitive in every game.  I think they have achieved that.”  Roberts said their efforts at training had been consistent all year which had helped.  Key players for the Bears were recognized by coach Roberts.  “Michael Borg has really come out of his shell this year.  Jack Slattery has improved greatly and the team doesn’t work very well when Zane Brandenburg isn’t there.”  Roberts also wanted to acknowledge Gerard Moriarty for playing up when needed from the Under 14s, Shane Perry for his assistance at training and running the water all year and Liz Slattery for strapping and being the FAO all year.  Coming into the finals, Roberts sees Peak Downs and Brothers as the biggest challenges.  “Peak Downs is a really good unit with big mobile blokes who play well together. Brothers are a well drilled side with a very strong defensive line.  Their communication across the park is awesome.”   

Steve Brown, coach of second place Brothers says the season has been ‘challenging’.  “We have had a lot of injuries…some season ending.  This has taken its toll.  It’s been pretty hard for the boys.”  But their efforts to work together has seen a positive back end of season results for the Brothers team.  “We have a good blend of 15 and 16 year olds and they have worked hard through this adversity as a group.  This is the real positive of the season, and to finish in second spot is a real team achievement.” 

Brown wanted to thank Lana Kerswell and Belinda Cronk for volunteering as the team’s FAOs and Trevor Walker, Derek Wilson and Ian Lewin for helping with training and running the water for the team.  Brown believes all the top four teams are a threat.  “Clermont is strong; Peak Downs is strong; Middlemount are dangerous on their day.  Anyone in the top four is in with a chance.”

Peak Downs manager, Belynda Perkins has had the most challenging year, being the coordinator of players across four towns.  “Players this year have come from Tieri, Capella, Blackall and Longreach. Our biggest highlight has been getting a team on the field in the Under 16s.”  Husband and coach, Heath Perkins added, “The players’ families are the true motor of our Peak Downs Junior Pirates Team.”  Perkins acknowledged the Under 16 sponsors N & L Martin Grader Hire, Trufuels, Undamine Industries and Coal Train, for their continued support of the team.  The committee, Ian Morrissey, Tash Ling, Tiesha Allen, CH committee and the other CH teams also were thanked for their contribution.  But it’s been the coordination of the players by Belynda in conjunction with Leah Jackson and Peter Hauff and the efforts by the parents which has kept the team together throughout the season that deserve recognition. 

“The players and their families travel up to 12 hours on a Saturday to give their young men a competitive sport in these parts of the country where sport is very limited.”  Coach Perkins is looking forward to watching some great finals footy.  Rather than predict the outcome of the finals, the Pirates coach and his wife and manager wanted to acknowledge the ‘huge achievement to be where they are.  We have never had a full training session together so we just take each game as it comes.”  

Rounding out the top four is the Middlemount Panthers who combined with the Dysart Bulls to ensure the boys in this age group got a chance to participate in the league.  “It’s been a topsy turvy season”, said Coach Scott Lonergan.  Despite being able to draw players from two towns, they still only managed twelve players.  “But they always stayed true to each other.”  The players to make Central Highland representative teams had stood up throughout the year to help secure the fourth spot on the ladder. 

“Jack Lonergan has shown good leadership and go forward.  Mike Dyson is explosive from the hooker position while Brandon Modrzynski at lock or 5/8 showed great defensive skills and is a handful for the opposition on the edges.  Brodie Hagan has been good at fullback- he is very fast.”  Lonergan wanted to acknowledge the parents who ‘carted kids around the Highlands and helped out.’ For the finals, Lonergan said he couldn’t write off any team.  “Each team has strike players.  Will Paki, Alex Kerswell and Ethan Brown from Emerald Brothers carve up.  Clermont have endless options with Jackson Reynolds, one of the best players in the Highlands, Will Mohr if he fires up, Jack Slattery and Calin Schrader who are deceptively fast.”  All the Central West boys were strike players for the Peak Downs Pirates.  “They wouldn’t travel that far if they weren’t any good.  They definitely have good go forward and Tate Perkins is crafty around the ruck.” 

Outside finals contention is the Emerald Tigers and coach Brett Weatherley said the season hadn’t been ‘real flash with plenty of ups and downs.”  While they had plenty of numbers and good size in the team, the commitment was lacking a bit, according to the coach.  “We do have a good base of players to build on.”  Jacob Weatherley, Dyron Jones, Tyler West all contributed well throughout the season, while Kye Ryan was ‘a magic little kid who tried his heart out.” 

James Bridgeman also had a ‘ripper of a season and played rep for the Under 16s even though he was only 15.”  Isaac Whiley and Jo Harboard put in every week as well, according to the coach.  “We started the season well, and did have good patches throughout the year.  We just need to improve the effort for the whole game.”  Weatherley wanted to thank Ben Kerswell for his coaching assistance, and the committee who have implemented a system which encourages more parent involvement.  For the finals, Weatherley thinks Brothers will be hard to beat.  “They are too good across the park, very committed and work very well together.” 

And finally Blackwater Crushers may have finished at the bottom of the ladder, but coach Graham Carsburg still was full of praise for his players.  “We struggled with numbers, and then with injuries but full congratulations to the boys for the season.”  Carsburg also wanted to thank the parents for their support and in particular Amanda Bateman, Paddy Rogers and Lochlan Reid.  For the finals, Carsburg believes Clermont and Brothers will be the teams to beat, but wanted to wish the ‘best of luck to everyone in the finals.”

And while the curtain may be falling on the 2014 season, it is an apt time to thank all the coaches, the league safe runners, the sports trainers, the canteen workers, the referees, linesmen and of course, the mighty players for all their efforts to ensure spectators and league fans have been entertained all season!