It was a massive day for the Kiama Junior Knights last Saturday, with the club hosting the modified semi-finals of the South Coast Group 7 Rugby League competition.
Four Junior Knights teams were in action across the day, with the Under 10-1s taking on the Milton Ulladulla Bulldogs in the second game of the day.
The Knights Under 10-1s have gone from strength to strength this season with their skill development and attitude. They had some new players join from other codes and some new playing combinations within their team.
“The semi-final against Milton was always going to be a tough one as we hadn’t had any success playing them this season,” coach Benny Brookfield said.
“The team held their own in the first half with some good attacking plays, leading to a try to Levii Poching with was converted by Jett Brookfield. Despite some strong defence, the Knights went into the half-time break trailing 12-6.
“The Knights came out strong in the second half with a try to Samuel Guevara and goal to Lacom Poching, but two tries to Milton sealed their fate, winning the game 28-12. A good win for Milton, but a great season for the Knights who played well as a team and will be back better next year!”
Next up, were the Under 11-2s. At the beginning of the season, their Coach Mark Wingrove set the goal of reaching the semi-finals and the boys did just that!
The Knights took on Albion Park-Oak Flats White, who beat them 34-6 just three weeks ago, but the boys showed up ready to play on Saturday, shutting down any attack by the opposition.
“Both teams went try for try in the first half of the game and we went to the break leading 22-18,” trainer Liam Freaney said.
“The second half was all about defence and some strategic kicking from Lachlan Young and Jack Freaney.
“The entire team played beyond all our expectations and put in every ounce of energy. Despite three tries to Jack Freaney, and one each to Jake Farnworth and Taj Hinkley, Albion Park scored with just one minute to go, taking the lead for the first time in the game and walking away with a well-deserved win 28-26.
“As good as a win would have been, Mark and I were so proud of the performance that the boys put in – it was just so encouraging! Well done boys, we look forward to doing it all again next season.”
Next, the Knights Under 11-1s team took on the Albion Park Maroons, a side which had been undefeated for three years. But thanks to a strong defensive effort, the Knights won the game 12-0 and booked a spot in the grand final in Ulladulla on August 18.
According to co-coach, Shane Beasley, the boys defence, enthusiastic attitude and attack was on point for the full 40 minutes.
“The boys adjusted well when things started going against them and went back to the three key points we asked them to apply to the game – attitude, respect and capability,” he said.
“Our line speed was on point and our execution in attack was superb with tries to Sam Russell and Reilly Casswell, but every single player brought their ‘A’ game to the second most important game of the season.
“Ben and I were so impressed with the way they played – we are two happy coaches and are now looking forward to the grand final next weekend.”
In the last game of the day, the Junior Knights took on the Stingrays Green in the Under 12s Girls League Tag major semi-final. The Knights went into the game on a high, having finished the season as minor premiers and this gave them a real confidence boost.
According to Coach Cindy Brookfield, the team knew the game plan and stuck to it!
“The girls spent most of the first half attacking the Stingrays line, working their moves and this resulted in a try to Ally Hamilton which was converted by Jorja Correia-Kauter,” she said.
“Tori Wonson and Charlotte Payne made some great tags during the first half and ran the ball strong, seeing the Knights lead 6-0 at halftime.
“The girls started the second half as strong as the first with some great defence by Chloe Wallace, Misha McCarthy, Keely Beasley, Ava Ross and Olivia Horan. Despite this, the Stingrays barged over mid-way through the second half to level scores at 6 all.
“Some excellent league tag skills were displayed by both teams, and with the game in the balance the Knights Captain, Jorja, put in a kick which landed into the hands of a flying Koffi Brookfield who scored and converted, taking the lead to 12-6.
“Both teams gave it their all in the final minutes of the game, but the Knights were able to hand onto the win, going straight into the grand final. Well done girls!”