Thursday, August 31, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
From Grand Final heartbreak to undefeated Queensland Regional champions in the space of twelve months – that is the fascinating journey experienced by the Year 10 St Patrick’s College Mackay rugby league team.
The Cowboys Challenge Shield winners backed up their Grand Final heroics with a resounding 44-0 victory over Rockhampton’s Emmaus College in the State Regional Championship decider at BB Print Stadium.
It was another mighty performance from Tom Gaviglio’s all-conquering charges as they capped a memorable 2023 season with back-to-back trophies.
Turn the clock back twelve months and several members of the current Mackay squad were left gutted after conceding a try after the bell in the 2022 Cowboys Challenge Grand Final against Kirwan State High.
Their mission to succeed this season came to fruition with superb efforts in both championship finales.
From the moment livewire winger Trae Cora posted a hat-trick of tries to give his side a 16-0 lead at the break, there was no stopping the rampant St Patrick’s lineup.
Cora’s third try was a special after gun half back Adam McSherry burst through and off loaded to powerhouse forward Mark Morrow who linked with the flanker to score in a sweeping 60 metre movement.
The tries flowed after the interval with centre Billy Cruden dashing over from a passing rush; the quick-stepping McSherry and forward Declan Grady bursting through to nab fine solo tries before pivot Cooper Cavill completed the rout with a deserved double.
Impact forward Lincoln Hale booted the final conversion after number one kicker McSherry (3) and Cora (2) had earlier potted goals.
Back rower Morrow – who is contracted to the Canberra Raiders – was the best forward on ground and menaced the Emmaus defence with his bullocking runs and jarring defence.
Other players to impress were centre Norm Campbell, fullback Hamish Donohue and forwards Kereama Gartner, hooker Cooper Deguara, Eli Cookson and Liam Dickens.
Records continue to tumble for schoolboys rugby league powerhouse St Patrick’s College Mackay.
The Aaron Payne Cup winners roared into this week’s Queensland State Championship decider against Palm Beach-Currumbin State High School after slamming Rockhampton’s Emmaus College 28-6 in a State semi-final at BB Print Stadium.
It was another polished performance by Ian Schifilliti’s colts, who are chasing their first State Championship title in 23 years.
Talented winger Bailey Anderson demonstrated his scoring prowess by grabbing three of the Mackay team’s five tries in a standout performance.
A highlight was Anderson’s second four pointer on the stroke of half time after slick work by half back whiz Jaxon Purdue and sharp centre Tenzin Contor to give St Patrick’s a handy 16-0 lead.
Aided by a string of penalties and with promising halves Clancy Hohn and Isaac Walker calling the shots, the Emmaus side applied plenty of pressure – only to be met by ferocious St Patrick’s defence.
Earlier, the elusive Anderson crossed for the opening try after seven minutes – the result of a passing rush – before the skilful Purdue strolled over to score from dummy half to give St Patrick’s a ten-point advantage.
When the quick-stepping Hohn sliced through to nab a crucial try after the interval it gave the Emmaus side a glimmer of hope.
Anderson posted his hat-trick when he combined with Contor to score off a swirling Purdue kick before Hunter Harris potted a penalty goal to give the Mackay boys a 24-6 lead.
Dashing centre Will Shears sealed a comprehensive victory when he wrong-footed the Emmaus defence to collect a fine solo try before the bell.
St Patrick’s forwards provided the platform for success with hooker Xavier Kerrisk, lock Kayne Smith, Harrison Considine, Tyler Shandiman, Cohen Jackson, Diesel Costigan, Jake Bryan and Reece Morris turning in dominant performances.
In the other semi-final, Palm Beach-Currumbin State High lifted their 14th Allan Langer Trophy since 1993 after edging out reigning National Schoolboys Cup champions Ipswich State High 16-12 at Langlands Park.
PBC were best served by dynamic fullback and Player of the Match Ray Puru and middle forwards Brady Turner and Jett Jackson.
Now the scene is set for an enthralling tussle between two of Queensland’s most famous rugby league nurseries for the Phil Hall Cup.
The Reds nursery has produced 52 NRL players including former Kangaroos Ben Ikin and Darius Boyd and a prominent list of half backs in New Zealand international Jahrome Hughes, Cody Walker, Jamal Fogarty, Tom Dearden, Toby Sexton and recent Gold Coast Titans debutant Tom Weaver, who skippered PBC’s 2021 State Championship-winning side.
St Patrick’s were last crowned State champions back in 2000 – the same year Grant Rovelli’s super colts lifted the Confraternity Shield.
By Chris Karas
St Patrick’s College Mackay players savour their Queensland Regional Championship victory over Emmaus College Rockhampton. Photo by Michelle Bettini