Sydney Scorpions once again continued their dominance of the Junior Regionals claiming their 10th consecutive Regional Championship title and 11 titles in total. The tournament bought with it a number of challenges including the timing and weather conditions during the event. Scorpions have now held both the National Touch League (Open and Seniors) and Junior Regional champion permit titles for eight of the past nine years running.
Fifty teams from the six New South Wales regions – Sydney Mets, Sydney Scorpions, Sydney Rebels, Southern Suns, Hunter Western Hornets, Northern Eagles and this year for the first time ACT Raiders – competed at Orange in chilly wintery conditions. For the first time, this year’s event welcomed Under 12’s into the mix along with the 14’s, 16’s and 18’s Boys and Girls divisions.
In the new Boys 12’s division three new Scorpions coaches in Jonathan Palau, Craig Lowe and Liam Liston were making their debut. The team won all their pool games except one which was a draw. The team went on to win a tight semi-final 2-1 against Rebels and then suffered their only defeat in the tournament against the Hornets 4-3 in the Grand Final. Overall a very pleasing performance from all involved with a bright future ahead for many of these players who will surely represent Scorpions for many years to come.
In the Girls 12’s the experienced coach Gloria Berryman was aided by Tim Sleigh and Kylie Nicholas. Ava Jones and Tia Matthews were amongst the stand-out players with the team winning their semi-final 2-1 against Mets and then knocking off the undefeated Hornets in the Grand Final by 2-0. What an amazing experience for this team of talented young girls taking out their first Junior Regional title in their first attempt.
In the Boys 14’s Scorpions once again had three new coaches in Harry Berryman, Nathan Wong and Mark Jones. The team only lost one game all tournament, that being in the round game against Hornets 2-1. However they bounced back from that minor setback to strongly beat Suns 9-3 in the semi-final and Mets 3-2 in the Grand Final. Joseph Teaupa and Tylan Black-Berryman were two of the strong performers for the team. Well done to all three new coaches on success on their first outing for Scorps.
The Girls 14’s were rated highly coming into the event with a number of strong players from affiliates that performed well at Junior State Cup. Coaches Keith Smith, Trevor McDougall and Andre Bali would have been happy with the team undefeated in their round games including a 5-0 win over Mets. However Mets bounced back strongly in the semi-final to knock off the highly fancied Scorpions by 3-2 in a nerve racking drop-off. Scorps led early but couldn’t put the Mets away leading to the drop-off. The Mets went on to finish the job by winning the Grand Final. Strong performers for the team included Raphaella Perigo, Mackenzie Davis, Marrisa Stubbs and Milla Elaro.
There was quiet confidence amongst the Boys 16’s team with coach Matt Lawson aided by Ricky Hetherington and Nhut Trinh. The team only lost one round game to the Hornets 6-5 and then faced off against the Mets in the semi-final only to go down 3-1 with Mets going on to win the title. Definitely a lot of talent to work with in years to come with all players benefiting from this regional event.
The Girls 16’s backed up their championship title from 2018 with another undefeated stella tournament. Coaches Edith Nathan, Carol Jones and Charmayne Nathan would have been very confident going into the Grand Final after a 8-3 semi-final victory. The semi-final win over Northern Eagles saw the Scorpions play some outstanding running touch football only letting Eagles back into the game slightly towards the end when it was all but over. The Grand Final win was against the Hornets 4-2 with Emily Smith named Player of the Final. Co-captains Kiiahla Duff and Lara Wilkinson led the team admirably all tournament.
A young Scorpions Boys 18’s team had a number of changes leading into the event, with the loss of the talented Flynn Angles Corke too big a hurdle to jump. That said coaches Brad Curl and Tim Kitchingham did see many positive signs for next year with the team making it to the semi-finals only to get beaten 5-2 to the Mets. The team were led by co-captains Ethan Klein and Nate Scrange. A strong Hornets team went onto beat Mets in the Grand Final with Josh Menzies being awarded the prestigious Scorpions Medal.
A star studded Girls 18’s team continued the domination of this division with yet another undefeated championship title. The team was coached by Roha Paki with Kalani Duff and Carly Easterbrook assisting. The team won their semi-final 4-2 over Mets setting up a Grand Final show down against the Hornets. Lucy McDonald was named Player of the Final with the Scorpions winning 3-0 in the game that mattered. Players Player for the Scorpions was Jade Pond after having a very strong tournament on debut.
Overall Scorpions claimed four of the eight divisions on offer. Whilst the Scorpions were dominant they were pushed yet again by the Hunter Western Hornets, who also participated in six finals and claimed two titles in Boys 12’s and Boys 18’s divisions. Sydney Mets also had a strong showing winning two divisions and finishing third in the overall Champion Permit title. In 2020 the event will head to the Central Coast and return to Orange in 2021 in a warmer time of the year.