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Southern Cyclones Under 14 girls win premiership

Southern Cyclones Under 14 girls team capped off a stellar year in Cairns District Junior Rugby League competition by winning a premiership, as well as being the only Under 14 side to remain undefeated throughout the season.

At the start of the season, Tully and Innisfail amalgamated to form Southern Cyclones team due to a lack of numbers from each club.

Once the team had been established, it was revealed a number of girls were in their first year playing rugby league in club, but had playing experience with their respective schools.

Each week, training sessions were split with one day in Tully and one in Innisfail.

The team was made up of eight girls from Innisfail, six from Tully and later in the year also a girl from Ravenshoe.

From the first training session, the girls showed an eagerness to learn, and were able to pick up and execute game plans quickly and effectively.

They also showed they were able to complete their sets of six once on the field and playing under pressure from their opposition.

The team gelled quickly and as a result became like a family unit.

Coach Michael Davis believed by having a couple of the more experienced girls step up and take on leadership roles this helped teach and organise the newer players.

Their strengths in defence, and learning to manipulate the opposition by moving the ball around the field is what he felt made their team stand out.

Southern Cyclones started their winning streak in Cairns against Kangaroos, but slowly realised their potential and as a team became more confident after winning against Edmonton and Ivanhoes to take the top position on the ladder without 13 players on the field.

Cyclones played their grand final game against Kangaroos which was a highly anticipated game and didn't disappoint.

For the first time during the season, Cyclones found themselves down in the first half with a score of 12-6 in favour of Kangaroos.

It was the girls' fitness and players like Nemika Fitzgerald, and Jade Ketchell, who led the way in the forward pack, along with Shanequa Wiremu-Taha and Gracie Delta who made breaks in the defence line and pushed the yards which made a huge difference in the second half.

The second half proved to be a very exciting as Cyclones pushed their tries from one in the first half to six tries overall and three conversions.

Gracie Delta bagged three tries, while Shanequa Wiremu-Taha finished with two and Kimberly Bryant one.

Alyssa Patch slotted two conversions and Eloise Burton kicked a perfect conversion to end the game at full time.

The final score in the grand final was 30-12 to Southern Cyclones.

Nemika Fitzgerald was named the player of the match and proved her value as a strong forward making the way for her team.

Top try scorers for the season were Wiremu-Taha and Delta who both tied with 15 tries each which made up a whopping 120 points of the team's 166 points for the season.

The top goal kicker went to one of the youngest players, Alyssa Patch who kicked 11 conversions. These achievements resulted in all three girls being at the top of the top point scorers list for the season.

Southern Cyclones players also went to Atherton as the Innisfail District Under 14 girls team where they played off against an Eacham team, which was made up of players from Atherton and Torres Strait.

Innisfail district won the tournament over all grades and the Under 14 girls were victorious and returned home with the North Queensland Country Joyce Bolton Shield.

From the representative tournament in Atherton, seven girls were named for the North Queensland Country side: Kimberly Bryant, Jesse Johnston, Shanequa Wiremu-Taha, Gracie Delta, Eloise Burton, Ariana Barlow and Jade Ketchell.

Unfortunately, Barlow and Ketchell had to pull out of the representative team which created an opportunity for Stephanie Sutton and Shanice Davis to step up.

These seven girls went to Townsville to trial for the North Queensland Marlins where two of them, Jesse Johnston and Kimberly Bryant were selected in the Marlins team. 

Main image: The premiership winning Southern Cyclones Under 14 girls team