The weather couldn’t be any more perfect at a picturesque Webb Oval in Yeppoon for the 2016 Central Division Under-20s 47th Battalion carnival.
In its second year of the new format, defending premiers Rockhampton hosted Gladstone, Bundaberg, Central Highlands and the best from the Queensland Outback over the weekend (July 9-10).
Saturday started well for the Outback side who had been in a training camp since Wednesday, putting a plethora of points on the Gladstone under-20s to start the day off winning 52-12.
Alex Coonan was a standout for Outback, taking control of the game and putting his forwards through holes in the Gladstone defence. Bryce Rackemann also did very well at dummy-half, getting his name on the scoreboard by bagging two tries.
Rockhampton was next to face off against the Central Highlands side. The game started with Justin Asse scoring a trifecta of tries on the left wing in the first 20 minutes to give Rocky a 16-0 lead.
Highlands broke the drought just before half-time and continued to put the points on Rocky after half-time to get within two points of their lead.
The Rustlers didn’t give up that easily and with a minute to go, the “home town hero” Jace O’Neill scored to give the Rustlers a close win 24-18.
After Bundaberg’s narrow loss to Rockhampton last year, the Bears had showed up hungry to take the trophy back. Their first match against the Outback was a close affair in the first half with the Bears leading 16-12 at half-time.
A masterclass from Bundaberg centre Trent Seeds in the second half cemented Bundaberg’s first win of the carnival defeating the Outback 32-16.
It was a tough day at the office for the Gladstone side who were beaten by Rockhampton 48-0 in their second game of the day.
In the final match of the day, the Bundaberg side led from the front and comfortably defeated the Central Highlands side 30-10 in a very scrappy game of footy.
The win for Bundaberg secured the Bears top spot on the ladder and booked a semi-final against Central Highlands (4th). Rockhampton (2nd) were drawn against Outback (3rd) in the second semi-final.
Rocky player Mitchell Forrest was named Player of the Carnival.
In the first semi-final on Sunday, Highlands played like a new footy side, putting the last night’s loss behind them. At the half-time break, Highlands led 12-10.
An inspirational half-time speech from Bundaberg coach Matt Templeman saw the Bears come out of the dressing sheds and put 22 unanswered points on the Highlanders to book a spot in the Grand Final, winning 32-12.
In the second semi-final, Rockhampton came out of the blocks firing, scoring three tries to start the affair. Outback started a late comeback early in the second half but the Rustlers switched on the afterburners to win 30-12. It wasn’t all smooth sailing though for Rocky with the loss of Justin Asse and Jake Ainsworth to injury in the match.
Player of the Final was Jace O’Neill from Rockhampton.
The Bundaberg Bears and Rockhampton Rustlers played off again in the Grand Final for the second year running but it was Rockhampton who took control of the game from the start. Batted, bruised and down on troops with only two players on the interchange bench, the injuries didn’t stop the determined Rustlers who led from the start, defeating the Bears 30-4.
Credit must go to the Rusters’ forwards as most players needed to play a full 60 minutes due to the number of injuries.
Credit must also go to the Bundaberg Bears who never gave up in the encounter but were just outplayed and outmuscled.
Congratulations to Jace O’Neill (Rockhampton) who was named Player of the Final and to Mitchell Forrest (Rockhampton) who was named Player of the Carnival.
At the conclusion of the carnival, the Division named a merit side to potentially play a fixture later in the season. The squad includes:
1. Isaiah Huet (Central Highlands)
2. Justin Asse (Rockhampton)
3. Jake Ainsworth (Rockhampton)
4. Trent Seeds (Bundaberg)
5. Chol Chol (Bundaberg)
6. Mitchell Forrest (Rockhampton)
7. Alex Coonan (Qld Outback)
8. Josh Johnston (Rockhampton)
9. Thomas Whitehead (Rockhampton)
10. Braden Collins (Qld Outback)
11. Isaak Pederson (Bundaberg)
12. Ronald Francis (Qld Outback)
13. Jace O’Neill (Rockhampton)
14. Jayden Alberts (Bundaberg)
15. Shaun Ezzy (Rockhampton)
16. Wade Fickling (Rockhampton)
17. Caleb McLean (Bundaberg)
18. Will Mohr (Central Highlands)
19. Jesse Johnson (Central Highlands)
Well done to the Yeppoon Seagulls and Rockhampton Rugby League on hosting another successful Central Division Under-20s 47th Battalion carnival. It was a terrific display of rugby league from the young and upcoming players of the various regions and their attitude and sportsmanship should be congratulated.
QRL Central Division under-20s results
QLD OUTBACK 52 (Bryce Rackemann 2, Ronald Francis 2, Alex Coonan 2, Charlie Adams, Brandon Sauverain, Braden Collins, Jekope Kauvere tries; Charlie Adams 6 goals) def GLADSTONE 12 (Benjamin Ryan, Christopher Riley, Maia Raihe tries)
ROCKHAMPTON 24 (Justin Asse 3, Jace O’Neill, Bayley Liu tries; Mitchell Forrest, Brandon Brown goals) def CENTRAL HIGHLANDS 18 (Isaiah Huet, Lachlan Reid, Jesse Johnson tries; Ryan Palmer 2, Jason King goals)
BUNDABERG 32 (Trent Seeds 2, Chol Chol 2, Liam Chapman, Jayden Alberts tries; Daniel McLennan 2, Caleb McLean 2 goals) def QLD OUTBACK 16 (Tom Dawson, Ronald Francis, Herbert Walden tries; Charlie Adams 2 goals)
ROCKHAMPTON 48 (Justin Asse 2, Cody-John Clark, Bryan Spence, Shaun Ezzy, Martin Crough, Jace O’Neill, Josh Johnston, Brandon Brown tries; Mitchell Forrest 6 goals) def GLADSTONE 0
BUNDABERG 30 (Chol Chol 2, Ross Larsen, Jayden Alberts, Caleb McLean tries; Daniel McLennan 5 goals) def CENTRAL HIGHLANDS 10 (Will Mohr, Jesse Johnson tries; Ryan Palmer goal)
Bundaberg 12, Rockhampton 10, QLD Outback 6, Central Highlands 2, Gladstone 0
1 v 4 – BUNDABERG 32 (Josiah Alberts 2, Daniel McLennan, Liam Chapman, Trent Seeds, Chol Chol tries; Daniel McLennan 4 goals) def CENTRAL HIGHLANDS 12 (Will Mohr, Jason King tries; Jason King 2 goals)
2 v 3 – ROCKHAMPTON 30 (Justin Asse 2, Bryan Spence, Wade Fickling, Shaun Ezzy, Martin Crough tries; Mitchell Forrest 3 goals) def QLD OUTBACK 12 (Ronald Francis, Alex Coonan tries; Charlie Adams 2 goals)
GRAND FINAL – ROCKHAMPTON 30 (Martin Crough 2, Cody-John Clark, Julyess Jarvis, Brandon Brown tries; Mitchell Forrest 5 goals) def BUNDABERG 4 (Jayden Alberts try)