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Local teams come close in Bundaberg Touch Cup

Ankle Bullies
Ankle Bullies captain Luca Felesina makes a lightning raid in their Bundaberg Touch Cup Social Men’s Grand Final against Bulldogs at Greg Duncan Fields on Sunday.

Rockhampton teams dominated the seventh annual Bundaberg Touch Cup at Greg Duncan Fields on the weekend, winning six of the eight competitive divisions, with two local teams also among the $20,000 prizemoney across the board, both finishing runners-up, Ankle Bullies in the Social Men’s category, and Bundaberg in Under-16 Girls.

Rockhampton Redbacks claimed the Blue Riband Open Men’s crown with a 7-4 Grand Final victory over Young Bulls, the U16 Boys, defeating Western Rebels 3-2, the U16 Girls, finishing on top of their table with a perfect 6-0 win-loss record, and U14 Girls with their Red side defeating their Black contingent 3-0 in an intra-club decider.

They also contested the U14 Boys finale but went down to Dalby based Western Rebels, who clinched that title for the second year in a row.

The Beef City’s other champions were in the Open Mixed with For the Record outgunning reigning title holders Kynd 6-3, and Bulldogs who put the bite on Ankle Bullies 3-1.

Gold Coast club Frezin Hot also snared a share of the spoils, accounting for Coolum BlueFins, which included youthful Bundaberg products, former State junior livewires Nathan Cook and Rebecca Goulding, 6-3 in Social Mixed.

Rockhampton Rebels completed a hat-trick of Bundaberg Cup Open Men’s titles last year, but while they did not enter this time, five members of their victorious team were part of the Redbacks on this occasion, one of Bundaberg’s most decorated touch sons, David Zanette, Bailey Assay, Jayden Benbow, Lachlan Crow and Jardel Bob, who are all Australian and/or Queensland representative stars in a range of teams.

Six of their seven other players have also excelled for country and/or state many times, Damon Moore, who was Player of the Final in Rockhampton’s triumphs in the Queensland State Cup Men’s Open Premier Division in 2019 and 2020, Jaymon Bob, Patrick Crow, Zayne Cox, Harry Griffin, Riley Huggers, and Malcolm Kenny, while Kale Oxenham has also mixed it with the best at high representative level.

Six of their big guns backed up 30 minutes later to also feature in For the Records’ romp, Player/Coach Damon, Bailey, brothers Jaymon and Jardel, Harry and Malcolm.

Ankle Bullies
Ankle Bullies were runners-up in the Social Men’s division of the Bundaberg Cup – Team: Luca Felesina, Tyler Ash, Nick Barrett, Sam Bull, Will Hamilton, Nathan Harvey, Trey Hubert, Oliver Moreny, Cooper Mortensen, Ashleigh Pole, Josh Pole, Lachlan Walker, Seb Woodland and Hamish Young

Of For the Record’s six female players, Rachel Walsh is an Australian Under-20 Women’s incumbent, and Jaymon and Jardel’s sister Kaliah, Brooke English, Pia Murphy, and Tahlia Shuker are Queensland Team or Squad members, and Sophie Smith is also a talent.

Meanwhile, Ankle Bullies also did brilliantly to progress to the Social Men’s “Big Dance”, going through their four Pool games unbeaten, overpowering Rockhampton Redbacks 7-4, The Wombats 8-1, and Old Warriors 7-1, and drawing with Galaxy 2-all, before disposing of fellow locals Never Onside 5-2 in the quarter-finals, and Rockhampton Redbacks 7-2 in the semi-finals.

But Bulldogs, who included Australian Youth Trans-Tasman Under-19 coach Mitchell Smith, former National junior ace Jack Caspani, and Queensland players such as Terry Etherden and Jayden Vea Vea, put their stamp on the gong with two early strikes.

Ankle Bullies pulled one try back through Cooper Mortensen and trailed just 2-1 at the break after going agonizingly close to equalising twice on the stroke of half-time.

Ankle Bullies
Ankle Bullies’ Ashleigh Pole trails as his young brother Josh makes a run in the grand final.

But in the end, the real game-breaker was a Bulldogs intercept try early in the second stanza.

From there, Ankle Bullies continued to play their hearts out, defending stoically to prevent their line being breached again, and they also did everything in their power to reduce the deficit, but their best chance, a length of the field attacking raid by inspirational captain Luca Felesina was ended with a diving ankle tap a few metres out, and while falling just short of the prize, they covered themselves in glory with a magnificent team performance over the two days.

Luca said that “Oliver Moreny and Cooper Mortensen both played well and scored a handful of tries each”.

“But it was definitely a team effort – we have all been playing together for a while and everyone played well over the weekend and did their part,” Luca said.

Never on Side, led by Lindsay Medley, had wound up fourth in their Social Men’s Pool with one win and three losses, before their quarter-finals exit at the hands of Ankle Bullies.

Bundaberg also had four teams in the Social Mixed division, all in Pool A, Jackhammers, Nerds, 6Pack and Ratbags.

Jackhammers, under the leadership of Brit Edwards, who won all of their round games to finish on top of their table, only to be edged out by Coolum BlueFins 6-5 in the semi-finals.

The youthful Nerds team, with Holly Stone at the helm, wound up second on points standings with three wins and one loss in their preliminary games, but they too were sent packing by Frezin Hot 5-1 in their semi.

Veteran multi-sport champion Jude Bust also led from the front for 6Pack, but they placed fourth in the Pool with one win and three losses, before battling out a 3-all draw with TBar Touch Downs in the showdown between the two No. 4’s in the Pools.

Ankle Bullies
Councillor Vince Habermann presents the runners-up cheque to Ankle Bullies captain Luca Felesina.

Ratbags did it tough throughout, losing all their four Pool games to bring up the tail, then also succumbing to Rebels 4-1 in the play-off between the two fifth placed outfits.

Bundaberg was represented by QNZLDer in the Open Mixed showpiece, with their former Australian representative captain/coach Blake Hornbrook going in with high hopes, but they found the competition too hot to handle, and they were beaten in all of their five games to be sixth and last.

Bundaberg’s U16 boys also found the going tough in their six straight defeats, but their U16 Girls fared better, with two wins, one draw and three losses, starting with a 5-0 white-wash by Redbacks, but then outclassing Gladstone 4-1, again feeling the might of Redbacks 6-0 and 7-0 respectively, drawing with Gladstone 3-all, being blown away by Redbacks 11-0, but bouncing back to sign off with a 4-2 dispatch of Gladstone.

The hosts were dually represented in U14 Girls, with their Maroon side placing fourth with one win, one draw and three losses, before going down to Redbacks Black 6-1 in the semi-finals, and their Blue team placing fifth in points standings after five straight losses, before losing to T Bar Touchies (Mixed) 8-0 in the play-off for fifth position.

Bundaberg’s U14 boys also wound up fifth in rankings with one draw and four losses, and they finished on a high with a 3-1 triumph over Gympie Boys in the play-off for fifth.

Fifty-five teams contested Cup which is one of Australia’s richest Touch Football knockouts.

Grand final results

Open Men: Rockhampton Redbacks 7 d Young Bulls 4.

Open Mixed: For The Record 6 d Kynd 3.

Social Men: Bulldogs 3 d Ankle Bullies 1.

Social Mixed: Frezin Hot 6 d Coolum BlueFins 3

Under-16 Boys: Rockhampton Redbacks 3 d Western Rebels Boys 2.

Under-16 Girls: 1 Rockhampton Redbacks 18 points, 2 Bundy 11, 3 Gladstone 7.

Under-14 Boys: Western Rebels Boys 2 d Rockhampton Redbacks Red 1

Under-14 Girls: Rockhampton Redbacks Red 3 d Rockhampton Redbacks Black 0.

Under-12 Invitational (No-competitive): R1: Last Minute 3 d Bundy 2; Bundy Girls 3 d Gladstone Girls 0. R2: Last Minute 5 d Gladstone Girls 1; Bundy Boys 4 d Bundy Girls 1. R3: Last Minute 4 d Bundy Girls 1; Bundy Boys 3 d Gladstone Girls 0. R4: Last Minute 3 d Gladstone Girls 0; Bundy Boys 7 d Bundy Girls 1. R5: Last Minute 7 d Bundy Girls 0; Bundy Boys 6 d Gladstone Girls 0. R6: Gladstone Girls 2 d Bundy Girls 0; Bundy Boys 3 drew Last Minute 3.

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