2022 JSC – U13 Boys Wrap

After 3 furious days of representative rugby league in WA our Junior State Championships finally came to an end on the 2nd of October with our finals in the U13s Boys, U13s Girls and U15s Boys.

While we know the results, we thought a nice wrap of the teams was appropriate for our amazing junior teams who went toe to toe over the three days.

We will be starting with the U13 Boys competition.

1st – Southern Pride – Winners
The ultra impressive side, coached by Manuel Koia, was always going to be very hard to beat. Containing this years two grand finalists in the Fremantle Roosters and Willagee Bears, with some players from other clubs filling out the 20, they were always huge favourites going into their games. And they showed it, with no team getting within 20 points of them in their fixtures. A brilliant mixture of size, speed and skill, they were extremely hard to play against. With no glaring weaknesses they are deservedly one of the most dominant Junior State Champions of any age group we have seen.

Our hearts and prayers go out to the amazing Elias Tsakalos, who suffered a nasty break on the final day. Even without the 13 year old ace, the Pride were far too good for the Fusion in the final. Led by captain Montana Setu, and a star studded forward pack which included Tawhitapou, Dickie, Neville, Collard and the scheming Koro, they were just a little too much for the other sides. When you add in the class of Koro-Hikawera and Lilii, it was always a sense of relief for the Pride when they finally were crowned champions.

2nd – Northern Fusion
The ballers from the North were never going to give the title to the Pride without a fight, and they threw everything at the red giant in the first half of the final. Coached by Jhai Kapea, the young tyros threw their bodies with wild abandon into the ball runners, often picking themselves back up off the ground only to throw themselves back into the fray. Players were playing well past their limit and still refusing to just let the Pride have their way, and with their vocal supporters pushing them they never ever gave up. A young side, they will go toe to toe with the best of them again in a year, with 2023 looking like being their year.

Led by their inspirational captain in Kyron Arthy, the gutsy Fusions side had some aces of their own. LJ Tongi and Fromby Turner were always a threat and Eraia Paekau showed more class and skill than anyone his age should rightfully have. But it was the bravery of some of the undersized players that stood out. Asic-Wade Evans, Nazea Gray and Xavier Mauchien along with others constantly went toe to toe with players out of their weight class, and kept standing up.

3rd – Invitational
A hail mary was thrown up a while back to assemble the invitational side, and Taeta and Tahla Faataumaua answered the call. Pulling together a rag tag group and talented youngsters, who were also on the young side, this tricky group of players enjoyed every second of the representative rugby league and the chance to play on some of the big stages. While only winning the one game, they hung in for long periods against the top sides, and will have a large group return next year for a big crack, with invitational or the other regions.

There were some good performances, starting with the under sized but talented Billy Woolmer, who was a revelation at halfback for the invitationals. Add in the big Awara Metekingi-Pu-Tamainu who tried hard all weekend and led them around. Special mention also goes out to young scrappers in Casey Berthelsen And Levi Jetta, who were smiling while trying to stop some of the biggest under 13 year olds in existence. But the “Man” of the hour belonged to Gabriel Hei Hei. A sensation for the Invitational side, he led them on both sides of the ball, constantly making breaks or saving tries. Wouldn’t have looked out of place in any side this weekend.

4th – North West Reds
The kids from the far far north came down and showed us all that their hearts are just as big as any others. While they don’t get the consistent rugby league the other players are accustomed to, they showed in flashes that given the chance they can go with their rivals from the metro area. Coached and organised by Kyle Watkins, they came from all over the Pilbara and Kimberley regions to show their wares, raising funds and paying a large cost to participate, of which we are eternally grateful. And although they didn’t get a win in the U13s age group, they showed a tenacity that only comes from fighting against all odds.

All the players in every team should be commended for their play, and special reservations to the Reds kids. But they also had their own stars. Golden Elkington had some brilliant fancy footwork every time he touched the ball, and the play of Brennan Kirkwood and Darcy Hatherley had smiles on the face of those watching. But the play and journey of little known half Jimmy Fletcher was enough to make the older football tragics smile. A skillful half all the way from Kununurra, right from his first touch of the ball he showed he was a class above.

A great tournament, thanks go out to all those involved and we look forward to junior state championships in the near future.