Northern NSW Rep Carnival a Winner!
The Northern NSW representative carnival staged in Coffs Harbour was a phenomenal success with all present hailing the quality of the play, the facilities, and the atmosphere.
This is the fourth time this carnival has been staged and this year’s edition built on the successes of previous events with record numbers of team entries across five different Leagues. With the best young talent between the Hawkesbury and Tweed Rivers on show, the quality of play was outstanding and a future stars are sure to have been unearthed.
North Coast Force teams performed brilliantly across the two days, with the Youth Girls leading the way with their onfield results. The girls won the opening match of the carnival to claim the first ever win for a North Coast female team and become the first Force outfit to sing the team song (watch here). The girls lost their next match to Hunter but bounced back with a dominant win over the Central Coast to claim their place in the final where a rematch with Hunter awaited them.
The Final was a tight and intense affair that was in the balance for much of the match before Hunter kicked a couple of late goals to claim the title. The Hunter girls are a vastly more experienced unit, playing in an established competition, and were stunned to hear at the presentation that the North Coast competition is in its first year such was the quality of the Force performance.
In the Under 13s, North Coast Force won their first of the match to set spirits high. Their next two matches were against the eventual finalists and, whilst playing well, weren’t able to claim a win in either. This left them in a third place play-off against Northern Rivers who stole an early lead, before the Force team roared back into the contest. Unfortunately, they couldn’t sustain the pressure and Northern Rivers pipped them for third place.
The Under 15s endured a tough opening day, losing both matches played, but really stood up and made amends on the second. In their first match of the day they played Central Coast and claimed a thrilling come from behind win to claim. This gave them an important psychological advantage as they faced the same team that afternoon in the third v fourth play-off. The Force saved their best for the play-off and ensure that Central Coast were never at the races to claim a strong win.
The Under 17s struggled in their first match against eventual champions Hunter, but bounced back well in the second to claim a one point win against Northern Rivers. Tables were turned the next morning when Central Coast beat the Force by the same slender margin before North West proved too strong. This set up a re-match with North West in the battle for third and a patched up Force team showed their class when they produced a gutsy performance to seal the win.
Best and fairest awards were presented for each team at the carnival, with North Coast Force recipients being:
- Youth Girls – Stacey Griffen (Macleay Valley Eagles)
- Under 13 – Mikey Luxton (Grafton Tigers)
- Under 15 – Justin Eggert (Port Macquarie Magpies)
- Under 17 – Lachlan Lloyd (Coffs Breakers)
The carnival was a resounding success for the first year of the North Coast Force program. The platform has been built and the Force will look to launch from this and have more teams playing in Finals in 2018.
Players from all four teams return to their clubs this weekend when the North Coast competition resumes.