This week (Wednesday, August 23) saw the culmination of another great season for the game in Queensland with some of the finest school rugby league talent on show at Dolphin Oval, Redcliffe.
Schools from across the state converged with representation spanning across Northern, Central and South East Queensland.
The blockbuster day of rugby league kicked off at 9am with the state finals of the inaugural Karyn Murphy Cup (KMC), the breakthrough competition for female participants.
The action didn’t stop there, with the GIO Schoolboy Trophy and GIO Schoolboy Cup being played later in the afternoon. Below is a summary of the two GIO Schoolboy finals – Cup and Trophy.
GIO Schoolboy Cup summary
The Queensland final of the GIO Schoolboy Cup (Phil Hall Cup) – the premier schoolboy competition rival of any Australian football code – and one that promotes the value of education as well as the sporting talent nurtured through Australian schools, came to an enthralling conclusion on Wednesday afternoon.
For more than 40 seasons, the competition has produced an amazing array of players such as Johnathan Thurston, Brad Fittler and Greg Alexander and more recently James Tedesco, along with a number of unforgettable matches.
At the same time, it has contributed positively to the identities and culture of the schools that take part, creating proud traditions for teachers, students and parents.
The 2017 Phil Hall Cup saw the powerhouse of Keebra Park SHS (which has produced NRL superstars such as Benji Marshall and Jordan Kahu) come up against the former high school of current Queensland Maroons and Australian Kangaroos captain Cameron Smith, Marsden SHS, who over the past few years have emerged as serious contenders in the schoolboy scene.
Keebra Park came flying out of the blocks and in the blink of an eye, took an early 10-0 lead. Marsden looked to be on shaky ground, but a brilliantly read intercept and the ensuing 80m runaway by their winger, Jalen Tangiiti-Turner, saw them bridge the gap to just four points.
In a tightly contested affair between two good quality football sides, Marsden were soon attacking the line of the opposition for back-to-back sets.
However, the Gold Coast school repelled them and struck again to take a 14-6 lead. While the scoreboard pressure would soon translate to a real arm wrestle in the middle third of the park, neither side were able to trouble the scoreboard attendant for the remainder of the half.
The second stanza commenced the same way the opening one finished, with both schools really standing for the occasion and putting on a fine display of rugby league for the boisterous crowd.
The game however was then opened up by man of the match Paul Karaitiana, who sliced through to extend his side’s lead; one that would turn out to be insurmountable.
Although defeated, the Marsden side proved they are a side built on effort, self-belief and toughness which is a credit to the young men who took the field.
However, nothing can be taken away from the 2017 Phil Hall Cup winners in Keebra Park SHS, who will be hoping to go one better than they did in last year’s competition and claim the National Final on Wednesday, September 6.
Keebra Park SHS 28 (Sebastian Winters-Chang, Tyrone Tofaeono, Paul Karaitiana, Tanah Boyd, Blake Scott, Devontai Seumanutafa tries; Tanah Boyd 2 goals) defeated Marsden SHS 10 (Jalen Tangiiti-Turner, Santana Whakatau tries; Santana Whakatau goal)
GIO Schoolboy Trophy summary
The GIO Trophy, run in conjunction with Queensland School Sport Rugby League 13-18 years (QSSRL 13-18), provided students and schools from non-elite programs an outstanding participation pathway to play our great game.
The expansion of the Trophy competition into Queensland this year was an exciting addition, with just under 100 schools from locations such as Cape York, Mt Isa, Chinchilla, Roma, Goondiwindi, Moranbah as well as metropolitan areas participating.
The 2017 Queensland final featured Rockhampton Grammar School, who after winning the Capricornia Regional competition, defeated Kirwan SHS and Good Shephard College (Mt Isa) to seal their spot in the inaugural final.
They took on Ipswich SHS, who after winning the Metropolitan West Regional competition, overcame Ferny Grove SHS, before edging out Roma State College in a thrilling 24-22 victory in the grand final qualifier.
Rockhampton Grammar, fresh from their victory in the 2017 Confraternity Shield, looked on song early as they skipped out to a lead with tries to a number of their outside backs, including man of the match Blake Moore.
Ipswich were able to strike back through their backrower Chris Luka who scored just beside the uprights. The sides went into the sheds with the scoreline at 18-6 in favour of the Central Queensland side.
The two teams were locked in an intense struggle for the first 11 minutes of the second half before the Rockhampton side extended their lead.
One try was all it took to dampen the spirits of the Ipswich side who would concede multiple tries back-to-back which all but sealed the inaugural GIO Trophy.
While Ipswich scored with just under 10 minutes to go, it wasn’t enough to reign in their Rockhampton counterparts.
Rockhampton Grammar School 46 (Riley Comiskey, Will Callanan, Aaron Moore, Blake Moore, Lachlan Scarpelli, Reece Copley, Trent White, Ben Williams tries; Benjamin Condon 5, Leighton Milburn 2 goals) defeated Ipswich SHS 12 (Faataape Timai, Chris Luka tries; Brock Mullen, Brad Zempech goals)