A mega day of rugby league was held at Tully Showgrounds recently to celebrate indigenous culture and promote reconciliation in the community.
The event included Far North Queensland Rugby League junior fixtures, Cairns and District Rugby League fixtures between the local Tully Tigers and Ivanhoes Knights and the annual North Queensland United versus Queensland Outback clash with both the men, and for the first time, women in action.
United and Outback staff and players travelled to the Cassowary Coast region via Cairns from far away as Badu Island and Torres Strait Islands to the Gulf, Normanton, Burketown and Mount Isa and other remote towns across South West Queensland.
As part of the reconciliation celebration, both indigenous cultures performed before both matches and was very powerful in front a great crowd at Tully’s new stadium at the Showgrounds.
In the inaugural women's game, up for grabs was the Skytrans Challenge trophy with Queensland Outback winning the inaugural matchup in a great game, prevailing 20-8 over North Queensland United.
Mount Isa's Maddison Hegarty was judged the player of the match which will now compliment the men’s contest which has been running for the last nine years.
With the Outback winning in 2018 at Sunshine Coast Stadium and in 2019 at Ken Brown Oval, Thursday Island, it was United who came out of the blocks with quick tries to Northern Peninsula Area centre Windsor Bowie and Normanton's Budhagi Gibuma joining captain Aaron Binawell on the scorecard.
With the score 18-0 just before half-time, Outback began staging a comeback, however six tries were held up or disallowed, allowing the home side to take the advantage into half-time, but seemed to be under heavy legs going into the sheds.
Tries to John Russo, Kurt Rowbotham and Lachlan Pollock got Outback in the game, however North Queensland stayed strong and took the Skytrans Trophy back to the Cape where it will stay until next year.
QRL Far North Queensland area manager Robbie Moore said the day was a great opportunity to unite the community.
"The footy was played in the right spirit by all players and the reconciliation acknowledgement with traditional owners and dancers made it a great day for all to come together and unite as one," Moore said.
"A big thank you should go to Tully Rugby League Football Club for their support of remote areas pathways and allowing us to play at the new Tully Stadium.’’
In other results, Ivanhoes proved too strong for the home side in A Grade 38-22 and Reserve Grade 18-8 but Tully began the day with a 22-16 win over the Knights in the under 18 clash.