Gin Gin Hawks five-eighth Rowan Sutton “came from nowhere” to storm to a run-away win in the Northern Districts Rugby League Gary Stehbens Player of the Year Medal at their Awards Night at Gin Gin State School on Sunday.
The 24-year-old, who is in his second year as Health and Physical Education Teacher and Sports Coordinator at Gin Gin State High School, also joined the Hawks last season after playing for Beerwah Bulldogs as a junior and USC Spartans during his university years.
He barely polled a point in the first half of the season after missing a month due to injury, but totally dominated the voting over the last six rounds, to amass 24 points and win by seven from club-mate Graham Jones, with Cole Crawford, of Miriam Vale Magpies, a further four points away in third place.
The popular Rowan was surprised to receive the award, but he believes there were a number of reasons for his late form surge which also been pivotal in the Hawks’ re-emergence as a force after they struggled for numbers and did it tough in the first few months.
“I think my fitness and game play knowledge has really improved in the past 6 weeks which is a major factor. It’s been really good having (coach and club president) Brendan (Usher) and other experienced club people to help out and give me pointers. I love improving my game, so it’s been great to have that support, Rowan said.
He also loves the mateship in the team and the support of the whole community, which have also been a reason behind their good recent form.
“The boys have been really good this year. Everyone supports each other and has each other’s backs. I think that definitely comes down to pushing through with low numbers all year,” Rowan said.
“It will be great to have that comradery when it comes to finals. It’s been great having so many locals and local businesses on board to support us this year, hopefully we can do the town proud in the next few weeks.”
The Hawks will host Grand Final day on Sunday August 14, but they face a sudden-death finals campaign, and first they must beat Avondale Tigers in the Minor Semi-final at Gary Larson Oval Miriam Vale at 1pm tomorrow, but Rowan believes their premiership prospects “are really good”.
“We’ve finished off the season quite well and are beginning to work together well as a team. I’m looking forward to a big 3 games with the boys,” he said.
“I don’t know if there’d be a much better feeling than winning a home ground grand final. Especially after a hard loss last year, it’d be an amazing feeling to bring the trophy back to Gin Gin, but first we have to get there.“
Team-mate Tyren Hoyle took out three of the other major Men’s awards, the Stephen Bennett Trophy for Rookie of the Year, Merv Slean Memorial Trophy for Most Tries with 15, and Finlay Family Trophy for Most Points with 76 from 12 Tries and 8 Goals.
The unbeaten Gin Gin Hawkettes also dominated the Women’s League Tag (WLT) awards with Jessica Galea receiving the McIntosh Homes Best and Fairest Player Medal, as well as the gongs for Most Tries with 19, and Most Points with 76, and team-mate Emma Collinson picking up the prize for Most Goals with 21.
Men’s minor premiers Miriam Vale Magpies will have home ground advantage for their Major Semi-final duel with battling reigning champions South Kolan Sharks at 2.45pm tomorrow.
Earlier, at 12 noon, the Hawkettes will take on Agnes Water Marlins in the WLT major semi.
- Minor Premiers Women’s League Tag Gin Gin Hawkettes.
- Minor Premiers Men’s Miriam Vale Magpies.
- Rookie of the Year: Tyren Hoyle
- Burnie Johnson Most Improved Player: Patrick Kreis South Kolan Sharks.
- WLT Most Tries: Jessica Galea 19 Tries.
- WLT Most Goals: Emma Collinson Goals.
- WLT Most Points: Jessica Galea 19 Tries 76 Points.
- Men’s Most Tries: Tyren Hoyle 15 Tries.
- Men’s Most Goals: Cem Rohdmann South Kolan Sharks 28 Goals.
- Men’s Most Points: Tyren Hoyle 12 Tries & 8 Goals 76 Points.
- Volunteer of the Year Sue Ellen Munyard NDRL.
- Representative Player of the Year Dylan Wagner. Avondale Tigers
- Mackintosh Homes Women’s League Tag Best & Fairest Player Medal. Jessica Galea.
- Gary Stehbens Player of the Year Medal” Rowan Sutton
Meanwhile, in the Bundaberg Rugby League, Hervey Bay Seagulls have had the wood over two-times defending champions Past Brothers all year, and their 34-14 loss to them after leading 14-4 at half-time in last year’s Preliminary Final will be an extra
motivating factor when the two sides meet in the Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership Qualifying Final at Across The Waves Sports Complex tomorrow at 5pm.
The Seagulls racked up a half-century of points in their first two clashes with the Brethren this season, 54-32 at home on April 2, and 54-16 at Salter Oval on May 21, but the Blue and Whites escaped with an honourable 16-all draw at Stafford Park last time they crossed swords on June 18.
But with “lessons learnt” in their Preliminary Final exit, their coach Jacob Blanke has continued to rest top players over the past month, in a bid to ensure they are full strength and ready to carry them to the title.
Teams for tomorrow are yet to be named, but after last week’s tough 12-6 home loss to Waves, which clinched the Tigers the minor premiership, Blanke said he expected a couple of players to return tomorrow, but a few would probably still be missing.
Earlier, the Panthers will square off against Easts Magpies in the Elimination Final at 3pm.
After three wins in a row, hosts Across The Waves Eagles will need to improve further if they are to shoot down the all conquering Hervey Bay Bombers in the Wide Bay Marquis Macadamias Senior Men’s Premiership at Frank Coulthard Oval tomorrow at 3pm.
Nor far away at Brothers Sports Complex, second placed Brothers Bulldogs will be hungry to get back on track after back-to-back losses when they host cellar dwellers Bay Power, also at 3pm.
The Bombers have thrashed Waves in their three bouts so far this campaign, 110-15 on April 2, 91-10 on May 7, 106-14 on June 18, but the Eagles are much stronger now, although this will be the gauge as to exactly where they are at.
There will be no complacency for the Bulldogs as they only scraped home 50-48 when they last encountered the Power on June 18.
Across The Waves should be far too strong for their hosts Granville when they go into battle in the Football Queensland Premier League Wide Bay Men’s League at Canning Park at 6pm tomorrow.
Earlier in their afternoon, their FQPL Women will come up against Tinana at 2pm at Martens Oval.
The United Park Eagles Women will also play a catch-up game against United Warriors at Torquay at 8.30pm tonight.
The Waves Men were also scheduled to play a game against Sunbury on Thursday night, but the Blues forfeited.
Bundaberg Hockey has a bumper program this weekend, with games from tonight through to Sunday, including some catch-up games for washouts.
There are two Division 1 Women’s games tonight, with Raiders/Rovers taking on Waves Cities at 6.20pm, followed by an All Blacks v Arrows/Athletics clash at 7.40pm.
All Blacks will be back on the field at 4.40pm tomorrow against Raiders/Rovers, with Cities and Arrows to square off at 7.20pm.
In Men’s action tomorrow, Cities II line up against Arrows at 2pm, followed by Raiders/Rovers v All Blacks II at 3.20pm, and a shoot-out between All Blacks and Cities’ No. 1 sides at 6pm.
On Sunday, Raiders/Rovers clash with All Blacks I at 2pm, and Cities I face Arrows at 3.20pm.
Waves Gold are expected to surge on towards another Bundaberg Warren Family Homes Division 1 Premiership minor title when they bib up against Natives Aim Hearing Magpies at the Super Park at 5pm tomorrow.
Then at 6.30pm, second placed Brothers Hurricanes could unleash against bottom of the table Waves Blue.
The spoils were shared around with nine trainers notching one winner each at this week’s Bundaberg meeting at Thabeban Park.
Five District trainers were among the winners, Tom Lowe with Orson Allison completing back-to-back victories in the Bargara Bakery Novice-Non-Penalty, David Raines with Social Impact in the TAB Novice-Non-Penalty, Darryl Raines with rank outsider
Benissimo ($61) in the Masters 5th Grade, Allen Kelly with Not Scared in the Free For All, and Allan Thrower with Alpha Humbug, which chalked up three straight victories in the Sky Racing 5th Grade.
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