BACK TO BACK TITLES FOR DEFENDING CHAMPS IN THE X BLADES 18s

first_imgQSST (Girls) and Sydney Mets (Boys) are the 2007 X Blades National 18 Years Champions having annexed back-to-back championships in 2007.In atrocious conditions with weather fit for ducks, the combatants in the Boys and Girls finals produced magnificent efforts in the most trying of circumstances.In the Girls Division QSST, after defeating South Queensland earlier in the day in their semi-final came up trumps with a tight 2-1 win over a valiant NSWCHS who pushed the defending champions all the way.NSWCHS had earlier survived a heart stopping drop-off in their semi-final, prevailing 5-4 against the gutsy Brisbane Cobras girls who nearly caused the upset of the tournament against their more experienced rivals.With 18 National Youth squad players on show in both line ups, the Grand Final featured the cream of Australia’s brightest young female players who were determined to put their best foot forward in the traditional Origin style clash between the two big guns of the game.After an Australian Idol quality rendition of the Aussie National Anthem by Western Australia’s 18 Years Girls player, Nicole West, it was down to business in the eagerly awaited clash.No sooner had the teams taken the field, then the heavens opened up and drenched the players, confining the game to a much different style than the capacity crowd had been anticipating.After some early thrust and parry, QSST’s star performer Kristy Brennan stepped up to the plate to produce some flashing footwork in an angled run to beat the NSWCHS defence close to the line to secure a 1-0 advantage.Players were slipping and sliding around the water logged field more than Mickey Mouse at the Ice Capades, and the tricky conditions made handling difficult and playing expansively tough.New South Wales kept probing in the first half with the sonic fast feet of Sophie Broadhead, the classy ball play of Jessica Absolum, and the steely defence of Amy Regal keeping the CHS girls in the hunt.Queensland’s first half was frameworked by some great wet weather composure from Gen “SG” La Caze, Kelly Jones, Kristy Brennan, and the wholehearted Lizzie Campbell who directed the Maroons well.The teams huddled up at half time, steeling themselves for a dour struggle to the end to claim the title.The teams fired several shots early in the second stanza but came up empty, until some quick hands from NSWCHS player Justine Johnston gave Mational 18s Youth squad member Laura Chivers an opening that she took with both hands to accelerate past the defence to level the scores at 1-1.It was game on as both teams tried desperately to gain the ascendancy in the worsening conditions.The plea from the players to close the roof fell on deaf ears much to the chagrin of the inhabitants on field one, and TFA ground staff whose eyes weren’t even dry after the torrential downpour.With the rain bucketing down, QSST Skipper Ali Brigginshaw produced a classic piece of one on one evasion to snap the defence in half and turn the game in Queensland’s favour to snare a crucial 2-1 lead with eight minutes to play.Both teams had several scoring opportunities, particularly with free running acting halves galloping loose in the in goal.The classy Sophie Broadhead (NSWCHS) and Kirsty Beer (QSST) in particular, splintered the opposition defence several times only to be denied.NSWCHS tired valiantly to bridge the gap, and right on full time took a penalty tap and chanced their arm in search of the elusive touchdown that would have evened the contest.Unfortunatel for CHS fans, the pass went astray and with the full time hooter reverberating in the distance, QSST players embraced on the field to celebrate back-to-back championships in style.NSWCHS Captain Jessica Absolum showed her class on and off the field with her post match interview to the capacity crowd moments after the tough defeat.“Full credit to Queensland… They were just too good on the day. They are always so tough and it’s testimony to the class of players like Ali who can just step up and make the crucial difference. Our girls gave their all and we can’t be disappointed with the huge effort everyone put in. It was a really good game given the toughness of the conditions,” Absolum said.QSST Captain Ali Briginshaw was ecstatic post game with her team’s victory and paid tribute to her team’s persistence.“The girls were great, we dug in hard – it wasn’t the prettiest of wins, but we stuck together and played tough touch and backed each other. CHS were as dangerous as always, and they never say die, so it was one of those really great Orign style clashes that can just go either way. Thankfully it was all good for us,” Brigginshaw said.In the X Blades 18 years Boys Final, Defending champions Mets were too good for QSST, claiming the title 4-1 in conditions that had the crowd looking for the Ark rather than the grandstand when the rain pelted down from the opening whistle.Mets, who had earlier escaped with a close 7-6 verdict over Brisbane Cobras in their semi-final match-up, were warm favourites with the bookies to go back to back with no less than 10 current Australian Youth players in their star studded line-up.QSST, making their first appearance in the Grand final since 2004, won through to the decider after a comfortable 11-7 victory over tournament surprise packets, Central Queensland in their semi-final.The two teams played “find the ball” in the massive puddles for most of the first half before Mets star turn Matty Moylan unleashed hell on the QSST defence to snap his way to the scoreline and a 1-0 advantage.QSST had lost a player for a professional foul moments earlier, and paid a heavy price for the indiscretion, with the mercurial Moylan taking advantage of the extra man to tax the Queensland defence and take the early lead.In the next set of six, Mets rammed home their advantage with a clever piece of ball movement from Nicholas Good and Patrick Bower to give David Farkas a saloon passage to the scoreline for a 2-0 buffer.Both teams tried hard to crack the opposition defence, with QSST’s Chris Taiters, Lawrence Oberlauter, Matt Hopkin, and Peter Norman pressing the Mets line to get back into the contest.The controlled Mets defence led by Captain Ben Moylan, Player of the Final Ezekiel Mears, and the rock solid Ben Antonio was having none of it and looked to have a steady hand over proceedings with half time almost upon the combatants.It was against this unlikely backdrop that the momentum of the contest swung.The Mets Boys clocked off 30 seconds before half time, allowing the gleeful Queenslanders back into the game with a touchdown to Dylan Taikato-Simpson who bridged the gap to 2-1 at oranges.Mets came our after half time looking to refocus, steady the ship, and dictate terms early.QSST had centred their attack through the middle in the first half and tried to play the 5 metre game that Mets are masters of.Half time produced a welcome change of tactics from the QSST boys who went wider first then tried to phase play against the suffocating Mets defence.QSST threw the kitchen sink and everything in it in the opening ten minutes of the second half, but the resolute Mets defence was more solid than Jason Stanton’s calves, and not even light was getting through on their watch.Mets weathered the storm, and it was the class and guile of the Moylan brothers, Matt and Ben, who sealed the deal for Mets with classic dive and slide touchdowns from close range to send the banana benders home without the title in 2007.Matty did it all himself to take Mets out to a 3-1 lead,  before big brother Ben stepped in to share bragging rights around the family table by gliding over himself, scoring the last touchdown of the match and clinching back to back titles for the Sydney Mets.Beaten QSST skipper Chris Taiters was philosophical about the loss.“It was a great effort for our boys to be here in 2007, we haven’t made the final for a while, so to come out and do that was great. Obviously you always want to win, but Mets handled themselves better in the conditions and full marks to them, they’re a real good side,” Taiters said.Mets Captain Ben Moylan couldn’t wipe the smile off his face in the post match interview, heaping praise on his close knit teammates.“It was sensational… back to back, it doesn’t get much better than that. The boys are all pretty close and this is fantastic. QSST hung in and it was a good contest, considering the conditions,” Moylan said.The champions were presented with their winners medallions in a “Wembly” style ceremony, scaling the stairs to the presentation area to be presented with the X Blades National 18 Years and Under Championship Trophy by X Blades Managing Director Bill Spyros.Despite the atrocious conditions players, officials, and spectators contributed to a great tournament that lived up to its pre competition boast of going better than a Snow Patrol Concert.last_img

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