South Dubbo players celebrate their big win over St John’s in the under-15/16s grand final on Saturday. Photos: JOSH HEARD
SOUTH Dubbo Raiders completed a winning double in the senior grades at the Junior league grand finals on Saturday at Apex Oval.
The Jerry Merritt-coached Raiders took out a competitive under-15/16s premiership decider 26-16 over St John’s while the Wayne Sing-coached team claimed the under-16s 32-16.
Merritt said his boys saved their best football for last and he was looking forward to them stepping up another grade next season.
It has been a real struggle for junior league president Neil Millgate and the clubs to get under-16s football back again after the embarrassing situation in 2011 when there wasn’t a competition.
But to ensure the future of the game at this level, they not only got six teams for the under-16s but four for the ‘under age’ 15/16s.
“Souths and St John’s were the top sides in front of Eastridge and Wellington, but it was still a competitive competition each week,” Merritt said.
“We had our ups and downs and our players strayed away from the game for periods and as a result we lost games along the way.
“But today they’ve come out and played really and I couldn’t ask for anything more than that.
“Saints scored the first try but once we got down to business there were fewer handling mistakes and we looked good with the ball.”
After Zac O’Leary’s try put the Saints in front 4-0, Souths hit back with tries to captain William Black, Jayden Merritt and Matt West and Darrell Simpson added a couple of goals for the Raiders to lead 16-4.
Cayden Gordon and Harry van Dartel added two more and the game was in their grasp leading 26-04.
But the Bernard Wilson-coached Saints hit back with the two final tries after having more momentum in the final 20 minutes. Gabe Chapman and Jacob Scott scored but the Raiders weren’t to be denied.
Man of the match went to the Raiders fullback Harry van Dartel who had a fabulous game.
He caught and ran the ball back with plenty of energy and a great cover tackle to prevent Shaun Lucas scoring during the second half was pure genius.
o South Dubbo Raiders 26 (Williams Black, Jayden Merritt, Matt West, Cayden Gordon, Harry van Dartel tries; Darrell Simpson 3 goals) def St John’s 16 (Zac O’Leary, Gabe Chapman, Jacob Scott tries; Scott 2 goals).).
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