The NSWTA Junior Regional event for 2023 has been held at the Central Coast Regional Sporting & Recreation Complex. Over the course of two days, 53 teams representing six regions from New South Wales including Sydney Mets, Sydney Scorpions, Southern Rebels, West South West Suns, Hunter Western Hornets, Northern Eagles, plus the ACT Raiders – participated in the event in Tuggerah. Despite earlier forecasts of wet weather, the conditions were ideal for touch football on Saturday and became even hotter as the tournament progressed towards Sunday’s finals. Overall, the event was a success, with favourable weather conditions and enthusiastic participation from the various regions. Well done to the NSWTA events team for once again putting on a great tournament at an excellent venue.
Sydney Scorpions continued their impressive winning streak by claiming their 13th consecutive Champion Region title. Their first title was secured in 2008 at Forster, followed by another in 2010 at Orange. Since then, they have won every year without fail, including the 2023 event, which marks their 14th Junior Regional title in total. In 2022, the Scorpions won three divisions, however this year they surpassed their previous record set in 2012 (when they won five from six divisions), by winning a remarkable six out of the eight divisions on offer. Scorpions impressive performance follows their recent 2023 National Touch League success where they won their 9th Champion Region Golden Boot title, by winning seven titles from ten grand finals – the most in their history at the event. Their combined success at the 2023 NTL and Junior Regional event has resulted in claiming 13 titles in total from the 16 grand finals played in.
The Girls 12’s were once again coached by Te Aroha Paki, with Aaliyah Berryman-Paki and Chloe Butcher Assistant Coaches and Graham Kilby Manager. The team dominated the round games, winning all six matches to claim top spot on the table before heading into the finals. Co-captain Kendall Kilby, who was participating in her third Scorpions Girls 12’s event, received both the Scorpions Medal and Players Player awards. Despite defeating the Rebels 2-1 in their round game, the Scorpions were knocked out of the competition by the Rebels, who defeated them 3-1 in the semi-finals. The Suns eventually won the grand final, beating the Rebels 3-2, leaving the Scorpions in fourth place.
The Boys 12’s team were once again coached by Heath Cooper and Willie Bishop, with Joel Marsters serving as the Assistant Coach and Vanessa Cooper as Manager. With six returning players from their 2022 team, which finished as runners-up, the coaches were confident of a strong showing at this year’s event. The team won all six of their round games and went on to defeat the Hornets 5-1 in the semi-finals. In the grand final, the team put in another dominant performance, with Beau Cooper being awarded Player of the Final with the team taking out a solid 6-3 victory over the Mets. The next stop for the Boy’s 12’s will be another shot at the National Youth Championships, this time in September on the Sunshine Coast.
The Girls 14’s had 5 incumbents returning from the 2022 team. Head Coach Keith Smith took on the challenge having not coached this team the previous year. He was assisted by Craig Beacroft and Kylie Nicholas, with Kirsty Wilson and Roberta Wansey as Managers. The girls began the tournament strongly, winning their first 4 games before a draw and then losing 4-3 to Mets prior to the final series. However, with the guidance of their experienced coaches, the team bounced back to secure a 5-2 victory in the semi-final against Suns. In the grand final against the Hornets, the team faced a daunting 3-0 deficit. However the Scorpions never-say-die spirit kicked in, and they managed to even up the game 3-3 just before full time. In the ensuing drop-off, Scorpions scored first, only for Hornets to level the scores on the 7th touch. However, Scorpions managed to score again and secured a thrilling 5-4 victory.
The Boys 14’s team was a completely new team in this division, with no returning players from the 2022 Junior Regional event. The team was coached by Head Coach Terry Joe, with Assistant Coaches Paul Macpherson and Steve Matthews, with Paul Macpherson also serving as Manager. The side’s first game was against the Suns with combinations being worked on and a number of debutants getting their first taste of Junior Regionals. It was a tight 2-1 loss which proved the difference with Suns finishing fourth and making the finals. The team had close losses to Mets and Rebels who also made the finals. Despite being a new team, they finished a credible 5th place in the competition. Jayden Richards was awarded the Scorpions Medal, while Caleb Zahra and Xavier Matthews shared the Players Player award.
The Girls 16’s team were filled with a talented roster, including Ava Jones, Coco Marsters, Kelsey Berryman, Logan Lemusu, and Waiaria Ellis. Coaches Gloria Berryman and Kalani Duff-Berryman, with Craig Beacroft assisting and Kellie Cohen as Manager, led the team to an undefeated title victory, with a 5-2 win in the semi-finals against Suns and a dominant 6-1 performance in the grand final against Hornets. The team scored 48 tries and only conceded 12. Logan Lemusu, who recently made her Women’s 20’s debut at the 2023 NTL, received the Scorpions Medal and Player of the Final awards. Logan also won the Scorpions Medal at the recent NTL, an exceptional achievement that hadn’t been seen since Sarah Peattie received the Junior Regional Girls 18’s Scorpions Medal and then the NTL Women’s Open Scorpions Medal in 2009.
The Boys 16’s team was led by Head Coach Craig Lowe and assisted by Dallas Paterson and Matt Lawson, with Lena Lowe serving as Manager. Tamoko Berryman-Duff served as the captain of the team, which had an impressive record of 5 wins and a draw in the round games, remaining undefeated. In the semi-final, they defeated the Rebels 5-2 before stepping it up in the grand final to secure an undefeated championship title with a 6-4 win over the Hornets. Alex McIlwraith, the Scorpions Medal winner, was a standout winger impressing many with his skills and being rewarded with NSWTA Merit Team selection. Similarly to Logan Lemusu in the Girls 16’s team, Alex won the NTL Men’s 20’s Scorpions Medal when he made his NTL debut in March. Tamoko Berryman-Duff was awarded Player of the Final.
The Girls 18’s team was led by Head Coach Sammy Rodgers and assisted by Anthony Dudeck and Trevor McDougall, with Tracy Stubbs as Manager. The team faced some challenges with three players unavailable due to Australian selection, however this provided opportunities for others. During the round games, the team managed to secure a narrow 2-1 win against Mets. Then Hornets, led by their Australian Mixed 18’s representative Zali Chippendale, defeated Scorpions 5-3 in the 4th round fixture. Scorpions came out focused and determined on Sunday with a final round game defeating Suns 6-0. Then it was a tough semi-final against a resilient Rebels, with the game locked up at 3-3 with Scorpions defending 8 nail-biting touches on their try line in the final minute of normal time. This included two game saving efforts by Jasmyn Vera on the wing. This forced the game into drop-off with Grace French showing her class and scoring the winning try. Onto the Grand Final and it was a classic arm-wrestle with both teams defences holding solid with the scores locked at 1-1 for 21 minutes. With 4 minutes remaining it looked like Hornets would get the victory taking the lead 2-1. However Scorps hit back through Brooke Bosland and then Hornets hit the lead again. With less than 10 seconds remaining and the championship on the line, Scorpions Grace French evened it up again and took it to drop-off. In the drop-off both teams scored within the first two minutes and then when both teams were reduced to three players Grace French teamed up with Club Captain Nina van der Reyden to score the winner and take out the title 5-4 for the Sydney Scorpions. Isabell Dale making her Scorpions debut took out the Players Player award and additionally was named in the NSWTA Merit Team, with Grace French Player of the Final and Scorpions Medal winner.
The Boys 18’s were competing in an extremely competitive division with the team coached by Brad Curl, with Mark Jones and Phil McIlwraith as assistants and Amy Alagna as Manager. The team had a good performance finishing the round games with 2 wins, 2 draws, and a loss. In the semi-final, they defeated the Rebels 7-6 in a drop-off, and in the grand final they won against the Hornets 5-4, avenging their loss to them in the previous year’s tournament. However that wasn’t before confusion was caused in the final seconds when the referees didn’t hear the final siren. Play continued for another two touches with Scorpions players stopping after hearing the siren. Hornets played on and scored to even it up however the referees came together and the correct decision was made that the try was scored well and truly after the final siren. The team’s captain, Max Marsters, had a remarkable performance and won the Scorpions Medal, Players Player, and Player of the Final awards.
Congratulations to all Scorpions referees for their outstanding performances across the event. Special acknowledgement to referees who were appointed to the following grand finals, including: Brandon Sanderson B18, Anthony Smith B16, Peter Cooper B14, Tua Marsters B12 and Leon Gonzalez G12. Furthermore, Brandon Sanderson deserves special recognition for being named the top-ranked referee of the tournament.
Scorpions Medical and Sports Science team yet again proved to be an indispensable asset to the region’s success. Their efforts in assisting players with their preparation and recovery ensured that teams were in top shape to face their opponents, particularly in the final series drop-offs. Scorpions are grateful to Michael Donaghy, Saiesan Anandakumar, Shash Sharma, and Travis Masters for their expertise in keeping the players fit and healthy throughout the event.
In addition to the medical team, Scorpions would also like to extend their appreciation to Kathryn Johnston. Once again, Kath captured the Scorpions team and action images, showcasing the region’s determination and hard work on the field. Kath’s photography has been a valuable addition to the region’s collection of memories, and Scorpions are grateful for her continued contribution.
Thank you to all Sydney Scorpions players, parents, officials, referees and support staff for what was an amazing event for the region.
2023 Sydney Scorpions Results & Award Winners:
Semi Finalists (4th place)
Scorpions Medal – Kendall Kilby
Players Player – Kendall Kilby
Champions – Scorpions 6 defeated Mets 3
Scorpions Medal – Billy Lowe
Player of the Final – Beau Cooper
Champions – Scorpions 5 defeated Hornets 4 (Drop-off)
Scorpions Medal – Georgia Wansey
Player of the Final – Shah Wakely
Coaches Award – Temeike Withers
Scorpions Medal – Jayden Richards
Players Player – Caleb Zahra, Xavier Matthews
Champions – Scorpions 6 defeated Hornets 1
Scorpions Medal – Logan Lemusu
Players Player – Waiaria Ellis
Player of the Final – Logan Lemusu
Champions – Scorpions 6 defeated Hornets 4
Scorpions Medal – Alex McIlwraith
Player of the Final – Tamoko Berryman-Duff
Champions – Scorpions 5 defeated Hornets 4 (Drop-off)
Scorpions Medal – Grace French
Players Player – Isabella Dale
Player of the Final – Grace French
Champions – Scorpions 5 defeated Hornets 4
Scorpions Medal – Max Marsters
Players Player – Max Marsters
Player of the Final – Max Marsters
JR Club Captains – Nina van der Reyden, Max Marsters
Sarah Peattie Medal – Nina van der Reyden
Sam Brisby Medal – Max Marsters
2023 Sydney Scorpions NSWTA Merit Teams Representatives:
Middles: Kendall Kilby
Utility: Zoe Lych
Middles: Lachlan Dorahy, Kobe Bishop
Links: Stirling Stuart
Wingers: Ariki Wihongi
Utility: Beau Cooper
Middles: Chaniel Berryman, Talia Berryman, Paloma Campos
Links: Layla Tonga
Wingers: Temeike Withers
Utility: Shah Wakely
Middles: Waiara Ellis, Logan Lemusu, Ava Jones
Links: Mia Tonga, Tia Matthews
Middles: Chayse Geros, Saxon Gaw
Links: Tamoko Berryman-Duff, Taj Thompson
Wingers: Alex McIlwraith
Middles: Brooke Bosland
Links: Tasma Patterson, Tiani Smith
Wingers: Isabell Dale
Utility: Grace French
Middles: Max Marsters, Blake Long
Links: Charlie Boyle
Wingers: Jayden Douglas, Nash Ritchie