Dungog High School’s 15 years boys rugby league team took the monumental step of claiming their first title in years by beating Toronto in the final of the Callaghan Cup.
The school has reached the final eight of the competition, which features the top 16 high schools in the Hunter region, but had not progressed to the semi-finals in several years.
The boys did it the hard way prevailing in several must-win games and overcoming a Toronto team which beat them in the first round of the final eight.
Coach Tim Francey said Dungog High’s teams had benefitted greatly from the professional, organised and skills based coaching they receive from playing with the Dungog Warriors.
“We were the smallest team in size that featured on the day but the boy’s tackling technique and willingness to work hard for each other makes up for the difference” Francey said.
The boys got off to a fantastic start by defeating Wallsend 16-nil.
The first set of defence set the tone with the Wallsend team being driven back 20m and giving up possession to Dungog in a good attacking position. The boys took advantage and on the back of some solid hit ups, strolled over in the corner for the opening try.
The team came up against four-time cup winners Lambton High School who got on top early and held on to defeat Dungog 12-8.
The result meant that Dungog had a must win game against Irrawang to finish in the top two in the pool and ultimately progress into the final eight stage.
After a few stirring words from Francey the boys fired up and dominated their opposition to win 16-4.
The first game of the final eight was a seeding game and Dungog came up against Toronto who were a solid outfit that showed a willingness to keep the ball alive, scoring one unbelievable try which involved 23 passes.
Dungog eventually lost the game 12-8 but were in it all the way.
The previous result meant that we came up against the undefeated West Wallsend.
The game was a tough struggle early until Dungog got a flow of possession and Will Duck carried two players over the try line to score first.
This try was quickly followed up with second as Jesse “Birdman” Tindall swan-dived over in the corner to finish the best ball movement of the day.
Dungog drew Lambton again in the semi-final, but this time the result was different.
Dungog kept line in tact for the majority of the game. Some solid running from Broc Hunt, Mitch Andrews, Dane Picker, Terry Edwards and Hamish Orchard and smart wing play from captain Gaven Taylor saw the boys record a two try to one victory.
“Shock set in as we realised that we had made to the Grand final; something that has eluded Dungog high team’s despite having made into the final eight of several competitions over the past five years,” Francey said.
After the seeding game against Dungog, Toronto won all their games in qualifying for the final.
“This was a true battle with both teams keeping it simple as one mistake could cost the title,” Francey said.
“Some smart lead up play from Tallis Duncan, Dane Laman and Cooper Collins led to a gap opening up for Will Duck to slice through and score the vital opening try.
“Scoring the first try meant that Dungog only had to draw the game to claim the title.
“Toronto, knowing they needed two tries threw everything at the boys, playing some scintillating football but try-saving efforts from Josh Osmond, Ollie Pritchard kept Dungog in the game.
Toronto did eventually score but it was too late as the hooter sounded and Dungog were crowned champions.
Dungog High’s Will Duck earned the most valuable player award for the tournament.