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Wagga High School celebrates its 16-14 Hardy Shield grand final win over Kildare Catholic College at Parramore Park on Tuesday night . Picture: Kieren L Tilly
SWEET SUCCESS: Wagga High School celebrates its 16-14 Hardy Shield grand final win over Kildare Catholic College at Parramore Park on Tuesday night . Picture: Kieren L Tilly
HARDY SHIELD GRAND FINAL
WAGGA HIGH SCHOOL 16 - 14 KILDARE CATHOLIC COLLEGE
TRIES : Lewis Reid, Lachlan Jolliffe, Ben Weedon
GOALS : Jack Flood 2
TRIES : Ned Sainsbury, Jack Schubert, Austin Hay
GOALS : Ned Sainsbury
THIRD PLACE PLAY-OFF
MATER DEI CATHOLIC COLLEGE 28 - 20 KOORINGAL HIGH SCHOOL
TRIES : Lachie Beard, Joel Tye 2, Kip McCrone
GOALS : Charlie Barton 4
TRIES : Jack Moorby, Tyson Hodge, Brody Tracey, Lachlan Piesley
GOALS : Leon Carmichael 2
WAGGA HIGH TAKES TITLE IN HARDY SHIELD NAIL-BITER

Wagga High School ended a nine-year drought in the Hardy Shield with a thrilling win over Kildare Catholic College in Tuesday night's grand final.

All eyes were on Ryan Mascini as he lined up a sideline conversion which would have levelled things for Kildare after the siren.

However, his valiant attempt to convert Austin Hay's late try hit the post and bounced back in field to hand Wagga High a 16-14 victory at Parramore Park.

Kildare had won the last two schoolboy rugby league titles and defeated their rivals in the pool stage, but couldn't contain the forward strength of Wagga High as they surged to their first title since 2008.

With captain Matt Fellows, Rhys Jolliffe and crafty hooker Luke Herman making plenty of inroads in the middle, Wagga High started to get on top in the second half.

Coming from a 10-6 deficit at the break, two quick tries put Wagga High in front with 10 minutes to play.

In the end it was former Kildare player Lachlan Jolliffe who took home the Rick Keast Medal after being named man of the match.

Jolliffe was part of the last two Kildare titles before making the switch and got through a power of work in the forwards.

He was thrilled to come away with the win.

“It's a good feeling with all the new boys,” Jolliffe said.

Jolliffe thought taking on his old school made him want the win even more.

“It makes me want to get into a bit more and go harder to get the win and take it off them,” he said.

Extra preparation paid off for Wagga High, who started training for the Hardy Shield in November.

PARTY TIME: Wagga High fullback Steve Senior celebrates with teammate Henry Standley after the Hardy Shield grand final win. Picture: Kieren L Tilly

November training sessions paid off for Wagga High School as the reached the Hardy Shield summit on Tuesday night.

Holding on to score a thrilling 16-14 victory over Kildare Catholic College, Wagga High won their first Hardy Shield title since 2008.

Matt Fellows led from the front to help his team take a drought-breaking win over their close rivals.

He thought the finish showed just how tight the competition between the two schools is.

“To come down to the wire like that I guess it just shows how close both teams were and how close they were in the whole competition,” Fellows said.

“It has been a while for Wagga High and their is a lot of hype with the Hardy Shield, especially us the two high schools on the hill, so to get one over the Catholics is real good.

Wagga High opened the scoring courtesy of man of the match Jolliffe after four minutes, however Kildare were quick to respond with Ned Sainsbury diving over from dummy-half five minutes later.

Kildare took a 10-6 lead into the break, after Jack Schubert scored right on half-time, but from there Wagga High really upped the tempo.

Quick tries to Lewis Reid and Ben Weedon put Wagga High in front with 10 minutes to go.

However they could only look in hope after Austin Hay scored to give his team a chance in the dying moments.

Ryan Mascini, who was the standout for Kildare, had the chance to send the game into extra-time with his sideline conversion attempt.

But when it hit the post it sent nervous Wagga High players and supporters into raptures.

Wagga High coach Brent Merritt thought it was a fantastic finish to the game.

“It was a great game, the boys went hard all game and they've earned it,” Merritt said. “These guys have been training since November last year and I reminded them of that before the game.

“They put every inch of effort in and have earned it.”

Fellows thought the extra preparation helped them get over the line.

“We started early, we didn't always have the numbers there, but the boys who were always there were the ones who really stood out for us and lead the team around the park,” he said.

FULL-TIME

WAGGA HIGH SCHOOL 16 (Lewis Reid, Lachlan Jolliffe, Ben Weedon tries; Jack Flood 2 goals) d KILDARE CATHOLIC COLLEGE 14 (Ned Sainsbury, Jack Schubert, Austin Hay tries; Ned Sainsbury goal)

THIRD PLACE PLAY-OFF

MATER DEI CATHOLIC COLLEGE 28 (Lachie Beard 2, Joel Tye 2, Kip McCrone tries; Charlie Barton 4 goals) d KOORINGAL HIGH SCHOOL 20 (Jack Moorby, Tyson Hodge, Brody Tracey, Lachlan Piesley tries; Leon Carmichael 2 goals)
Kildare's Jake Mascini and Sam Heffernan are out to keep the Hardy Shield off Wagga High's Matt Fellows and Ryan Cronin. Picture: Kieren L Tilly
BRAGGING RIGHTS: Kildare's Jake Mascini and Sam Heffernan are out to keep the Hardy Shield off Wagga High's Matt Fellows and Ryan Cronin. Picture: Kieren L Tilly
KILDARE CATHOLIC COLLEGE v WAGGA WAGGA HIGH SCHOOL
TRIES :
GOALS :
TRIES :
GOALS :
1 Sam Macklan
2 Tom Anderson
3 Austin Hay (C)
4 Austin McDougall
5 Jared Cochrane
6 Jake Mascini
7 Liam Fitzsimmons
8 Jack Shubert
9 Ned Sainsbury
10 Tomasi Baravilala
11 Sam Heffernan (C)
12 Kieran Stevens
13 Liam Moon
14 Henry West
15 Josh Emerson
16 Sean Timothy
17 Jack Hartnet
18 Rhyce Waters
19 Lachlan Giddings
20 Tom Heffer
21 Matt Knagge
  1 Steve Senior
2 Jacob Ocieng
3 Ryan Cronin
4 Cooper MacDonald
5 Ben Weeden
6 Jack Flood
7 Lewis Reid
8 Lachlan Jolliffe
9 Luke Herman
10 Bowie Foster
11 Rhys Jolliffe
12 Matt Fellows (C)
13 Mitchell Cawley
14 Rhys Stanton
15 Benson Ochieng
16 Sean Keith
17 Tyson Williams
18 Henry Standley
2017 Hardy Shield Grand Final
7:00 PM @ Parramore Park
WAGGA HIGH OUT TO CAUSE AN UPSET IN HARDY SHIELD

As Kildare Catholic College eyes another undefeated season in the Hardy Shield, Wagga High is looking to end a long run of outs in the schoolboys rugby league competition.

The two rivals will face off at Parramore Park on Tuesday and Wagga High is looking to get their hands on the trophy for the first time since 2008.

Captain Matt Fellows is confident they can turn the tables, end the drought and come home with the shield.

“We've definitely got a good shot, a good team and we've improved since the first game against Kildare," Fellows said.

“We've definitely got the team to do it as this year has a strong year 12 base.”

ACTION FROM ALL THE ROUNDS OF THE 2017 HARDY SHIELDHARDY SHIELD 2017 ACTION FROM ALL THE ROUNDS OF THE 2017 HARDY SHIELD

Wagga High failed to make the final last year, but Fellows believe a more concerted effort on the training paddock has led to more success.

Standing in their way is the two-time defending champions who also scored a 28-22 win when the two teams faced off in the pool stage.

In an ominous sign, co-captain Sam Heffernan believes Kildare has improved throughout the competition after a large player turnover from last season.

“From where we started to now the side has come a very long way,” Heffernan said.

“When we first started we were pretty rough, didn't know where we were going or what we were doing, but have a bit of direction now.”

The final will be held at 7pm but the big evening of action kicks off at 4.30pm with the Preston Butcher Cup final between Kildare and Mater Dei Catholic College.

Kooringal High School and Mater Dei Catholic College will line play off for third place at 5:30pm.

Hardy Shield final teams

KILDARE CATHOLIC COLLEGE v WAGGA HIGH SCHOOL

Parramore Park, 7pm

Kildare: 1 Sam Macklan, 2 Tom Anderson, 3 Austin Hay (C), 4 Austin McDougall, 5 Jared Cochrane, 6 Jake Mascini, 7 Liam Fitzsimmons, 8 Jack Shubert, 9 Ned Sainsbury 10 Tomasi Baravilala, 11 Sam Heffernan (C) 12 Kieran Stevens 13 Liam Moon 14 Henry West,15 Josh Emerson 16 Sean Timothy 17 Jack Hartnet 18 Rhyce Waters 19 Lachlan Giddings, 20 Tom Heffer 21 Matt Knagge.

Wagga High: 1 Steve Senior, 2 Jacob Ocieng, 3 Ryan Cronin, 4 Cooper MacDonald, 5 Ben Weeden, 6 Jack Flood, 7 Lewis Reid, 8 Lachlan Jolliffe, 9 Luke Herman, 10 Bowie Foster, 11 Rhys Jolliffe, 12 Matt Fellows (C), 13 Mitchell Cawley, 14 Rhys Stanton, 15 Benson Ochieng, 16 Sean Keith, 17 Tyson Williams, 18 Henry Standley.

Charlie Barton tries to off load against strong defence in the Hardy Shield Semi Final
Charlie Barton tries to off load against strong defence in the Hardy Shield Semi Final
KILDARE CATHOLIC COLLEGE 28 - 0 MATER DEI CATHOLIC COLLEGE
TRIES : Sam Heffernan, Austin MacDougall 2, Jack Schubert, Liam Moon
GOALS : Matt Knagge 5
TRIES :
GOALS :
WAGGA HIGH SCHOOL 20 - 12 KOORINGAL HIGH SCHOOL
TRIES : Bowie Foster 2, Luke Herman, Ryan Cronin
GOALS : Jordan Little 2
TRIES : Tyson Hodge, Jaylem Byrnes
GOALS : Leon Carmichael 2
KILDARE CATHOLIC COLLEGE v WAGGA HIGH SCHOOL
TRIES :
GOALS :
TRIES :
GOALS :
KILDARE THUMPS MATER DEI TO SET UP HARDY SHIELD FINAL WITH WAGGA HIGH

Kildare Catholic College's dream of a third straight Hardy Shield title remains alive following a big semi-final win over Mater Dei Catholic College.

It was a one-sided affair as the two Catholic schools faced off for a place in the grand final at Parramore Park on Tuesday.

Courtesy of a mistake from the kick-off, Kildare opened the scoring after three minutes and were never headed in the 28-0 victory.

Coach Andrew Morton was happy with the effort.

“I think last game we gave them a bit of a sniff so we were pretty determined to put that game to bed and put them to bed,” Morton said.

“It was good to do that.”

Sam Heffernan scored the first try when he was able to capitilaised on some nice work from five-eighth Ryan Mascini.

Mascini made 30 metres off a big step before putting Heffernan over.

A strong offload from Tomasi Baravilala then put Liam Moon over before Heffernan scored off a nice short ball from Mascini to give his team a 16-0 lead at half-time.

Mater Dei struggled to make inroads into the Kildare defence and were put further on the back foot when Jack Schubert scored six minutes after the break.

A double to Austin MacDougall, including a 100-metre intercept effort, sealed the win for the defending champions.

A sour note was the serious injury to Matt Knagge.

The fullback came off with a suspected fractured wrist and Morton admitted he will be hard to replace for the final against Wagga High.

Meanwhile, Wagga High captain Matt Fellows led his team's charge into the Hardy Shield final after a 20-12 win over Kooringal High School on Tuesday.

Fellows made a big impact as his team set up a grand final showdown with Kildare Catholic College next week.

Wagga High got off to a perfect start when Luke Herman scored from dummy half after three minutes before Kooringal High hit back as captain Tyson Hodge crashed over.

Foster then scored the first of his two tries to hand his team a 10-6 lead at half-time.

Ryan Cronin broke the deadlock after the break before Foster's second sealed the win.

Jaylem Byrnes hit back with four minutes left but his team ran out of time.

Wagga High coach Brent Merritt is looking to his team to bring a more polished effort in the final.

FULL-TIME

KILDARE CATHOLIC COLLEGE 28 (Sam Heffernan 2, Austin MacDougall 2, Jack Schubert, Liam Moon tries; Matt Knagge 5 goals) d MATER DEI CATHOLIC COLLEGE 0

WAGGA HIGH SCHOOL 20 (Bowie Foster 2, Luke Herman, Ryan Cronin tries; Jordan Little 2 goals) d KOORINGAL HIGH SCHOOL 12 (Tyson Hodge, Jaylem Byrnes tries; Leon Carmichael 2 goals)

Brody Tracey gets brought down by TRAC's Henry Yates last week. Kooringal plays Wagga High School for a place in the Hardy Shield final.
BIG GAME: Kooringal High's Brody Tracey gets brought down by TRAC's Henry Yates last week. Kooringal plays Wagga High School for a place in the Hardy Shield final.
KOORINGAL LOOK TO RISE TO CHALLENGE

Kooringal High School faces a big step up as they prepare to tackle Wagga High School for a place in the Hardy Shield final on Tuesday.

While undefeated, the team has come through the lower ranked Pool B to qualify for the semi-finals.

After taking a narrow win over Mount Austin High to start the schoolboys rugby league competition, Kooringal burst into the semis with a 34-6 demolition of The Riverina Anglican College last Tuesday.

On the other hand Wagga High started their campaign with a narrow loss to Kildare Catholic College before getting the better of Mater Dei Catholic College.

Wagga High hasn't played in 12 days and coach Brent Merritt hopes it is long enough to fix some niggling injuries picked up in the 32-4 win over Mater Dei.

“I think we had a very good game a fortnight ago and this will be a good tough to see if we are ready to take on Kildare again,” Merritt said.

In the second of the semi-finals, Kildare and Mater Dei will face-off in another rematch of last year's grand final.

The two teams met last week with the defending champions scoring a 30-20 win to continue their unbeaten streak.

The final will be held on March 28 along with the play-offs for the the remaining four positions.

Jaylem Byrnes takes a hit-up as they continually put the TRAC defence under pressure. Picture: Kieren L Tilly
RELENTLESS ATTACK: Kooringal's Jaylem Byrnes takes a hit-up as they continually put the TRAC defence under pressure. Picture: Kieren L Tilly
KOORINGAL
HIGH SCHOOL
34 - 6 TRAC
TRIES : Zac Carl, Tyson Hodge, Brody Tracey, George Kendall, Kyle Schmetzer, Dylan Arragon
GOALS : Leon Carmichael 5
TRIES : Liam Delahunty
GOALS : John Downes
KOORINGAL HIGH INTO HARDY SHIELD FINALS WITH CONVINCING 34-6 WIN OVER TRAC

Kooringal High stormed into the semi-finals of the Hardy Shield with a convincing 34-6 win over The Riverina Anglican College (TRAC) at Parramore Park on Tuesday afternoon.

The six-tries-to-one effort booked a date with Wagga High next week.

Check out our gallery
Kildare outlast MDCC

In a battle to determine the winner of Pool B – from which only one team qualifies for finals – Kooringal was first on the scoreboard through backrower Zac Carl.

TRAC drew level through a converted try to Liam Delahunty but when Kooringal skipper Tyson Hodge powered over for a 12-6 half-time lead, it was ominous.

Centre George Kendall set the tone with a powerful run to put TRAC on the backfoot and before the set of six was out, Brody Tracey was over.

As Kooringal forced errors, they capitalised on their chances with Kendall and then replacement winger Kyle Schmetzer scoring.

A rampaging run from fullback Dylan Arragon continued the onslaught, as he crossed in the corner. And sharp-shooting Leon Carmichael's conversion in the wind made it 34-6.

They looked like bringing up the big 40 when Deacon Smith streaked away, only to be called back after putting a foot into touch.

School representative Tim Wykes said they'll draw confidence from the game.

“It was a good team effort from all our players,” Wykes said. “When we have substitutes scoring tries, it's a good result.”

Kooringal haven't made the final since they won the Hardy Shield in 2012.

FULL-TIME:

KOORINGAL 34 (Zac Carl, Tyson Hodge, Brody Tracey, George Kendall, Kyle Schmetzer, Dylan Arragon tries; Leon Carmichael 5 goals) TRAC 6 (Liam Delahunty try; John Downes goal).

Bryce Magnone looks to surge out of Rhys Jolliffee's tackle on Thursday
Bryce Magnone looks to surge out of Rhys Jolliffee's tackle on Thursday.
WAGGA HIGH SCHOOL 32 - 4 MATER DEI CATHOLIC COLLEGE
TRIES : Matt Fellows 2, Jordan Little, Jack Flood, Rhys Jolliffe
GOALS : Jack Flood 3, Jordan Little
TRIES : Chase Burmeister
GOALS :
RIVERINA ANGLICAN COLLEGE 22 - 16 MOUNT AUSTIN HIGH SCHOOL
TRIES : Ryan Warman, Henry Yates, John Downes, Liam Delahunty
GOALS : John Downes 3
TRIES : Jarod Ladbury 3, Meleke Morris
GOALS :
CHECK OUT SOME OF THE ACTION
WAGGA HIGH BOUNCES BACK

Wagga High School rebounded from an opening round loss to score a big win over Mater Dei Catholic College in the Hardy Shield clash at Parramore Park on Thursday.

Last year's grand finalists have no answers as Wagga High ran away with a 32-4 victory.

Setting the tone early, Wagga High opening the scoring after five minutes when captain Matt Fellows crossed and never looked like getting headed.

Fullback Jordan Little completed a dominant first half as he capped off a brilliant team try for Wagga High.

A quick kick followed by a smart offload from Fellows put Little away under the posts to hand his team a 22-0 lead at half-time.

Coach Brent Merritt was thrilled by how his team responded following a 28-22 loss to Kildare Catholic College on Tuesday.

“It was much better,” Merritt said.

“Basically everything that they did wrong on Tuesday, that cost them the game, they've turned that arounf.

“They really cut those mistakes out and as a result got an excellent score.”

Things slowed down in the second half but Wagga High still scored two tries to one.

Little capped off a double while Chase Burmeister scored his team only try.

Meanwhile, The Riverina Anglican College scored a thrilling win to start their Hardy Shield campaign.

Scores were locked at 16-all when with five seconds left in the game Liam Delahunty scored to down Mount Austin High School.

TRAC led 16-4 with 12 minutes left but had to withstand another spirited comeback from Mount Austin

Jarod Ladbury scored a hat-trick to give his team a chance of a comeback win, but in the end goal kicking proved to be the difference.

Both teams scored four tries a piece, with three goals from TRAC captain John Downes proving decisive.

The competition continues on Tuesday.

FULL-TIME

WAGGA HIGH SCHOOL 32 (Matt Fellows 2, Jordan Little, Jack Flood, Rhys Jolliffe tries; Jack Flood 3, Jordan Little goals) d MATER DEI CATHOLIC COLLEGE 4 (Chase Burmeister try)

THE RIVERINA ANGLICAN COLLEGE 22 (Ryan Warman, Henry Yates, John Downes, Liam Delahunty tries; John Downes 3 goals) d MOUNT AUSTIN HIGH SCHOOL 16 (Jarod Ladbury 3, Meleke Morris tries)
Tom Hallam, pictured scoring a try last season, has been ruled out of Mater Dei's clash with Wagga High on Thursday.
Tom Hallam, pictured scoring a try last season, has been ruled out of Mater Dei's clash with Wagga High on Thursday.
HALLAM A LOSS BIG BLOW FOR MATER DEI
Story By : Courtney Rees Wagga Daily Advertiser

2017 HARDY SHIELD NEWS

Mater Dei Catholic College have been struck a blow on the eve of its first game of the Hardy Shield.

Last year's grand finalists could be without captain Tom Hallam for the entire competition due to a hand injury.

Hallam underwent surgery on Wednesday and how long he'll miss is unknown.

Despite the uncertainty, coach Daryl Lawrence is confident of filling the void against Wagga High on Thursday.

Hardy Shield opening nightSome of the action from the first fixtures of the season. Pictures: Les Smith

A surprise packet last season, Mater Dei fell to Kildare Catholic College at the last hurdle.

Around eight players from last year aren't in the side and Lawrence isn't sure just what to expect.

“It's a different squad so there are a lot of unknowns,” Lawrence said. “We've got a young team, which is great, and they've trained hard and trained consistently.”

Wagga High suffered a 28-22 loss to defending champions Kildare Catholic College on Tuesday.

Lawrence missed the game but still expects to come up against a tough team.

“I don't need to watch Wagga High to know that they are a quality outfit,” he said

“They have always been strong and this is a year that they have great personnel across the park.

“We will have our work cut out for us.”

Lawrence is looking for his team to control the ball and keep their errors down.

The clash starts at 5.30pm, following the game between The Riverina Anglican College and Mount Austin High School at 4.30pm.
Hardy Shield round two

THE RIVERINA ANGLICAN COLLEGE v MOUNT AUSTIN HIGH SCHOOL

TRAC: Tom Byrnes (VC), Sam Cooper, Liam Delahunty, Ryan Wardman, PaaKofi Amponn-Nyamekye, John Downes (C), Xavier Mamo, James Munday, Sam Sibrey, Justin Jenkins, Henry Yates, Charlie O'Mahoney, Will de Jong, Lachlan Wakefield, Alastair Brissenden, Harry Byrnes, Charlie Hamilton, Joel Parnell, Harry Radley, Bailey Hogg

MAHS: Brendon Saltner, Tristan Clifford, Jarrod Ladbury, Marcus Zarich, Latrelle Goolagong, James Morgan, Latrelle Siegwaldt, Rhys Weldon, Chevy Hare, Norman Babeleh, Chris Davis, Jordan Everingham, Maleke Morris, Jai Whyte, Chris Heir, Ky Gordon, Ben Parsell, Jacob Clarke, Maurice Simpson

MATER DEI CATHOLIC COLLEGE v WAGGA HIGH SCHOOL

MDCC: Charlie Barton, Tom Butt, Joel Tye, Jake Hodge, Jeffrey Mannell, Tallis Cotterill, Corey Toole, Lachie Beard, Tom Hallam (C), Jackson Casey, Kip McCrone, Mitch Wadley, Theo Heinjus, Rhys Nicholson, Ben Pollock, Chase Burmeister, Bryce Magnone, Mark Fletcher, Joe Burton

Ryan Cronin Wagga High School (Photo : Les Smith)
Wagga High's Ryan Cronin (Photo : Les Smith)
Hardy Shield opening night Some of the action from the first fixtures of the season. Pictures: Les Smith
CHECK OUT SOME OF THE HARDY SHEILD ACTION
KILDARE WINS, HARDY SHIELD TITLE HUNT ON

Hardy Shield title holders Kildare had to dig deep before powering through the opening match of the schoolboys' competition, defeating Wagga High 28-22 at Parramore Park on Tuesday.

“I think it was an awesome effort,” Kildare coach Andrew Morton said.

“Wagga High scored in the first set of six and people thought, ‘this is going to be grim,' but we fought hard and ended up beating them.”

Wagga High playmaker Jordan Little scored the first try and Jack Flood converted, but the public school boys defended for the next 18 minutes, under continual pressure from Kildare.

Kildare five-eighth Jake Mascini made a break from halfway to score before one of just three returning players, Sam Heffernan, starred in their next try, and captain Austin Hay exploited the left wing, offloading to Liam Moon who scored in the corner.

Matt Knagge converted all three tries, and Kildare were up 18-6 by half time.

Wagga High coach Brent Merritt urged the boys to play to the referee's rules after giving away a series of penalties.

“Take a mildly-high shot, he'll penalise you, don't release and he'll penalise you,” he said.

“You can't win a game when you defend for 80 per cent of it. Our attack's good, but there's only been tiny bursts of it.”

Wagga High showed more resistance in the second half, and made fewer errors.

Little made ground at fullback, and Matt Fellows lifted the team's spirits as he scored between the posts, setting up Flood for the conversion.

However, Kildare maintained a comfortable lead.

"You can't win a game when you defend for 80 per cent of it - Wagga High coach Brent Merritt"

Despite the strong start, Morton denied they're shoo-ins for the shield.

“Wagga High's a very good side, so they'll get better,” he said.

“It'll be a very good comp.”

Morton praised the efforts of Sam Heffernan, Matt Knagge and Jake Mascini on his return after a two-year spell, as well as young half back Liam Fitzsimmons.

“Liam's only in Year 9, he tackled everything that moved,” he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, in Mount Austin's comeback, the underdogs staged a thrilling performance in the second half to rival Kooringal High.

Kooringal led 20-0 at half time, and held onto the lead to win 20-18.

On the full time buzzer, Mount Austin's Latrelle Siegwaldt fired a warning shot to rival teams.

Siegwaldt sprinted forward as his teammate kicked the ball, and as a Kooringal player dropped the catch, he scooped the ball up, palmed-off defenders and launched himself across the try-line.
John Downes, Tom Hallam, Sam Heffernan, Matt Fellows, Maleke Morris and Tyson Hodge are out to win the Hardy Shield. Picture: Kieren L Tilly
UP FOR GRABS: John Downes, Tom Hallam, Sam Heffernan, Matt Fellows, Maleke Morris and Tyson Hodge are out to win the Hardy Shield. Picture: Kieren L Tilly
2014 HARDY SHIELD NEWS
BATTLE IS ON FOR HARDY SHIELD

Kildare Catholic Catholic is determined to hold onto its mantle as the best schoolboy rugby league team in Wagga.

The Hardy Shield kicks off on Tuesday as the competition returns to a six-team format.

Mount Austin have returned to the fold this season as Kildare are looking to make it three wins in a row in the competition.

However the defending champions have a new look team, with only three players backing up from last year's success.

Despite losing the majority of last season's winning team, co-captain Sam Heffernan is confident of another big year.

“We have a pretty strong side this year,” Heffernan said.

“It's a new team, but we look strong, are a clever team and have picked it up pretty quick.

“There are a few young fellas, but I think we will go alright.”

Kildare have lost two front rowers, Bowie Foster and Lachlan Jolliffe, to Wagga High.

Heffernan said Foster and Jolliffe had “gone to the dark side”, adding spice to the clash of the traditional heavyweights on Tuesday.

After failing to make last year's decider, Wagga High captain Matt Fellows is looking before better start to the competition from his team.

The team has put in a lot of preparation and Fellows is confident their hard work can pay off.

“We've been training since early in the last term of last year and a few new boys from different schools have come over so we have a pretty strong team,” Fellows said.

“We only lost five or six players who have finished school so everyone has played a bit before and we have all played together.

“If we put in what we've been doing at training into the game then I think we have a good shot.”

After failing to have a team last season, Mount Austin captain Maleke Morris said the team were excited about the prospect being involved once more.

“It is good to be back and we should go good,” Morris said.

“We've got good numbers, around 18 or 19.

“We wanted to do it last year but we were all too young so it should be good this year.

“They are all keen to rip in.”

The team also has some high quality mentors with Southcity captain-coach Nick Skinner, Country representative Nathan Rose and Jermaine Packer helping out with training.

The action kicks off at Parramore Park on Tuesday with Kooringal tackling Mount Austin at 4.30pm before Kildare and Wagga High face-off at 5.30pm.

The second round will be held on Thursday before two more preliminary rounds next week.

The semi-finals will be played on March 21 ahead of the grand final and other play-offs on March 28.
TRAC snags first Hardy Shield title with historic win
TRAC snags first Hardy Shield title with historic win
Lachie Moore, Luke Murray and Drew Martin. Picture: Les Smith
Hardy Shield grand final. The Riverina Anglican College v Kildare Catholic College. Lachie Moore, Luke Murray and Drew Martin. Picture: Les Smith
The Riverina Anglican College v Kildare Catholic College. Ed Ansell celebrates TRAC's win. Picture: Les Smith
Hardy Shield grand final. The Riverina Anglican College v Kildare Catholic College. Ed Ansell celebrates TRAC's win. Picture: Les Smith
TRAC's Blake Jorgensen, Kildare's Derek Hay and TRAC's Daniel Downes. Picture: Les Smith
Hardy Shield grand final. The Riverina Anglican College v Kildare Catholic College. TRAC's Blake Jorgensen, Kildare's Derek Hay and TRAC's Daniel Downes. Picture: Les Smith
CHECK OUT THE HARDY SHIELD LOCKER ROOM
TRAC SNAGS FIRST HARDY SHIELD TITLE WITH HISTORIC WIN

TRAC snags first Hardy Shield title with historic win

BOOROOMA and Estella residents be warned - there's a party kicking off at The Riverina Anglican College (TRAC) and it could last for days.

The school is celebrating its first Hardy Shield title following a thrilling victory over perennial competition powerhouse Kildare at Equex Centre last night.

- PHOTOS: Hardy Shield 2014

It's been a decade in the making and TRAC coach Michael Stubbs has ridden the roller coaster all the way.

One word could sum up his feelings after the win.

"Relief, enormous relief," Stubbs said with a grin.

"They've worked so hard, kids like Luke Murray, Ed Ansell, Blake Jorgensen, the ones I mention over and over.

"They work so hard and they want it, so to get it tonight is just enormous for us."

Like anything worth having, last night's grand final victory didn't come easy for TRAC who was forced to hold Kildare out until the dying seconds of the game.

It was a battle of defence all night and it showed on the scoreboard, which was yet to tick over on either side when the half time siren blew.

It only took Kildare two minutes into the second half to open the scoring when Derek Hay stretched an arm out and slammed the ball down for a try, which went unconverted.

""They work so hard and they want it, so to get it tonight is just enormous for us." - Michael Stubbs"

Ten minutes later, man of the series Ed Ansell delivered a perfect ball onto the chest of a flying Lachie Moore, who dived over to score for TRAC.

Ansell had the toughest of conversions from the sideline, but a roar went up as the ball sailed through the uprights to put TRAC in front.

The intensity lifted as both schools fought for the game but Kildare couldn't cross again as TRAC won 6-4.

TRAC captain and lock Luke Murray was almost lost for words when asked to describe the feeling among the players.

"It's great, our first Hardy Shield it's really exciting," Murray said.

"I've played in this since year 9 and it's just great."

The tight win capped off a perfect series for TRAC, which won all four games on its way to the shield.

The Hardy Shield will now join the Carroll Cup and Byrnes Shield in the trophy cabinet, which Stubbs says is looking better every year.

""I've played in this since year 9 and it's just great." - Luke Murray"

"The trophy cabinet will never be complete but gee it's looking really healthy," he said.

Stubbs paid special credit to co-coach Josh Murray, who is a former TRAC student and led the school to its first ever Hardy Shield win many years ago.

TRAC will lose a whopping 17 players from the school at the end of this year but Stubbs is already keen to return and defend his title.
Derek Hay (Kildare Catholic College) and Luke Murray (The Riverina Anglican College show they are determined to win the coveted Hardy Shield. Picture: Les Smith
GAME FACE: Rivals captains Derek Hay (Kildare Catholic College) and Luke Murray (The Riverina Anglican College show they are determined to win the coveted Hardy Shield. Picture: Les Smith
JUDICIARY TO RULE ON HARDY SHIELD HOPES FOR CENTRE

KILDARE Catholic College centre Tim Vatubuli's place in the Hardy Shield final tonight will rest on the verdict of a judiciary hearing only hours before the game.

Vatubuli was sent-off following a brawl in a Hardy Shield semi-final last week and has been selected for the tonight's final subject to the result of the judiciary meeting.

The principals of Kildare College and The Riverina Anglican College, or their representatives, will confer with a "community representative" at 3.30pm before handing down a verdict.

Kildare College coach Geoff McNamara has named Vatubuli in the backline for the Hardy Shield final at 7.15pm, but his spot in the team has "to be confirmed".

With a cloud hanging over Vatubuli, TRAC coach Michael Stubbs yesterday declared dynamic Kildare College Connor McCauley a serious danger to TRAC's chances in the final.

Stubbs yesterday described McCauley as a "standout" in each of Kildare College's three previous games in the Hardy Shield series over the past fortnight.

"It doesn't matter whether it's at hooker, five-eighth or as a running forward, he (McCauley) has been a standout player," Stubbs said yesterday.

"I've looked at the videos, but also seen in first person, and he's definitely a real danger."

Quick and elusive, McCauley has been in blistering touch for Kildare College in three earlier shield games, including victories over Mt Austin High (54-0) in the preliminary rounds and Mater Dei Catholic College (20-0) in a semi-final.

McCauley was also dominant for Kildare when the team was beaten 10-8 by TRAC in a preliminary round game on March 24.

Taking stock of what should be a classically tight Hardy Shield final, Stubbs yesterday was adamant TRAC had a deterrent for the brilliance of McCauley and Kildare halves Derek Hey an Cameron Hands.

"We'll use our line speed to get up and frustrate them," Stubbs said.

Despite obvious wariness, Stubbs is "confident" TRAC will create Hardy Shield history tonight.

After a breakthrough victory in the Carroll Cup last year, TRAC is chasing its first Hardy Shield title tonight.

For Stubbs, TRAC only needs to reproduce its effort to topple Kildare College in the first week of the competition to succeed in its quest.

"Yes, I'm confident," Stubbs said.

"I was a little critical of the level of enthusiasm (of the team) against Wagga High in the semi-final but after watching the video I was probably hasty."

Searching for an advantage, Stubbs has earmarked one particular area in which TRAC had to have the ascendancy.

"We have to dominate the ruck," he said with emphasis.

Yet again, TRAC will rely on powerful props Jamin Jolliffe and Joe McNamara to give the team thrust up the centre, while dashing fullback Ed Ansell will be a threat whenever he has the ball.

Likewise, respective skippers Hay (Kildare College) and Luke Murray (TRAC) will carry many of the hopes of their team.

Significantly, Murray's brother Josh, a crackerjack halfback, has been drafted into the TRAC coaching staff for the final.

Mater Dei College and Wagga High, meantime, will clash in the playoff for the third and fourth at 5.30pm, while a Leaguetag game between TRAC and Kildare College is the curtain-raiser to the final.

Mater Dei player Isaac McKenzie breaks through the Kildare defence
Mater Dei player Isaac McKenzie breaks through the Kildare defence
KILDARE WINS FIERY BATTLE WITH OLD RIVAL MATER DEI

AN ALL-IN brawl towards the end of the semi final couldn't put a dampener on Kildare's convincing win over old rival Mater Dei last night.

Kildare ended up winning 20-0 thanks to a clinical performance from the reigning Hardy Shield holder.

Mater Dei hardly looked like scoring and Kildare coach Geoff McNamara praised the effort of his players.

"From a coach's point of view I couldn't be happier with the effort the boys put in," McNamara said.

"Defensively all night they were outstanding and that showed on the scoreboard at the end of the game which is really pleasing for me.

"That's what tough games come down to, defence.

"In the first half we were being impatient, trying to score off every hit-up instead of using our field position.

"But they got a lot better at that in the second half and got the rewards."

It was a team performance from Kildare who shared the tries between four different players.

The game was virtually won midway through the second half, however, and that's when things got ugly.

Players rushed from all over the ground to get involved in a fight which began over a seemingly minor incident between a player from each team.

Kildare winger Tim Vatubuli was the only player sent off following the incident, and his part in next week's grand final could come down to CRL guidelines.

Five minutes later, Mater Dei forward Liam Dedini was sin binned for attempting to instigate another fracas.

"Obviously bitter rivals, Mater Dei, as we unfortunately saw at the end there," McNamara said.

"We don't want to condone that type of behaviour but that's rugby league sometimes."

Now, Kildare will turn its attention to Monday's decider where it will look to go back-to-back.

Halfback Cameron Hands is expected to become available after missing the semi final.
Lachie Moore zips over for a try in the 58-4 demolition of Mt Austin High in a Hardy Shield on Monday
SPEEDSTER: TRAC centre Lachie Moore zips over for a try in the 58-4 demolition of Mt Austin High in a Hardy Shield on Monday
TRAC COULD BE DERAILED BY INJURIES TO KEY PLAYERS

THE Riverina Anglican College co-coach Michael Stubbs was barely smiling after the school's rugby league team smashed Mount Austin High 58-4 in a Hardy Shield tie at Equex Centre last night.

Despite taking great heart from the 11 tries to one avalanche, Stubbs later admitted not all was going smoothly for TRAC ahead of the Hardy Shield semi-finals tomorrow night.

"There are a few injury concerns," Stubbs said.

"We'll need to see how some players are before Wednesday night."

On the back of two impressive victories in the preliminary rounds, TRAC is right in the mix to score an historic breakthrough success in the Hardy Shield.

Stubbs, however, knows injuries to key personnel, including second rower Blake Jorgensen, halfback Jack Stubbs and hooker Aaron Kimball, have clouded the team's build-up to a semi-final clash with Wagga High tomorrow night.

Jorgensen, Stubbs, Tom Van De Rijt and Zac Barry were all forced to miss last night's romp with existing injuries, while Kimball was a casualty from the victory.

In a setback for TRAC, Kimball suffered an ankle problem in the fourth minute and had to be assisted from the ground.

Two minutes later, however, TRAC bounced back with a steaming try to prop Joe McNamara, who scored virtually untouched.

The son of Junee rugby league stalwart Geremy McNamara, big Joe and his front-row partner Jamin Jolliffe were a constant headache for the Mount Austin High tacklers.

It was McNamara again who went close to scoring in the eighth minute before lock Luke Murray burst through a yawning gap for TRAC's second try.

By the time Daniel Downes waltzed over for a try in the 21st minute, TRAC was out to a 30-0 lead and showing no signs of stopping the rampage.

Taking stock of the performance, Stubbs said TRAC's attack was excellent, but the defensive effort was even more pleasing.

"It was a good warm-up (for the finals)," Stubbs said.

"The boys never let up in defence."

Amid the carnage, Mt Austin High also earned a commendation from Stubbs.

"Mount Austin kept working," he said. "They certainly never gave up."

As much as Jolliffe and McNamara led the way up the centre, fullback Ed Ansell had a blinder, while halfback Daniel Downes and Murray were also outstanding.

WAGGA HIGH BACK ON TRACK FOR HARDY SHIELD CROWN

WAGGA High coach Brent Merritt is warming to the team's chances of claiming the coveted Hardy Shield.

Reflecting on a nine-try massacre of an arch-rival in a Hardy Shield tie at Equex Centre last night, Merritt declared Wagga High was ready to make a statement in the finals.

"We took our opportunities tonight," Merritt said.

"I think we've learned a lot since last week."

After bombing several chances on the way to a 14-8 loss to Mater Dei Catholic College in a first round rubber a week ago, Wagga High barely made a mistake in thrashing Kooringal High 50-0 last night.

With star playmaker Zeik Foster in superb touch, Wagga High treated Kooringal High to a football lesson.

Four tries in the opening 13 minutes rushed Wagga High out to a 22-0 lead, but the points tried up before half-time.

Given a fresh start, however, Wagga High turned up the heat in second half, running in three tries in eight minutes to stretch the advantage to 38-0.

Along the way, Foster produced two of the best plays of the night to set up a try for speedster Campbell Lovell and score one himself.

Later, Lovell and Foster were at it again as Wagga High finished off with two tries in the dying minutes, including a slick effort to Mick Mattingly right near the end.

Little wonder Merritt is confident Wagga High can take a shot at the title.

"I think we can give it a crack," he said.

Wagga High will now face The Riverina Anglican College in a semi-final tomorrow, with the winner to meet either Mater Dei College or Kildare Catholic College in next Monday's final.

With Foster and brothers Campbell and Carter Lovell creating mayhem out wide, Wagga High props James Hay and Nicholas Hay did so much of the heavy work.

Crafty Foster, however, was the standout, but halfback Jono Lally showed he will trouble TRAC as well.
TRAC forward Jamin Jolliffe
TRAC forward Jamin Jolliffe
TRAC CAN GO ALL THE WAY: JOLLIFFE

THE Riverina Anglican College (TRAC) enforcer Jamin Jolliffe believes the school has its best shot at breaking through for an historic Hardy Shield grand final when it takes on Wagga High tonight.

The bulking front rower says confidence in the camp is high as TRAC aims to qualify for its first competition decider.

Jolliffe, taking a break from year 12 exams yesterday, wasn't afraid to label this year's outfit the best he's seen.

"I'd say this is the strongest side we've had in a while," Jolliffe said.

"The boys know it's a good side but we're trying not to over-complicate things."

Jolliffe knows TRAC has the ability to win through to the school's first Hardy Shield grand final and even pocket the silverware.

"The boys are confident we can go all the way," he said.

"It would be really exciting, it would be a great achievement."

Before thinking about a grand final, however, TRAC will need to get past a determined Wagga High outfit at Equex Centre tonight.

It's shaping as a blockbuster semi final as both teams vie for a spot in the big dance.

TRAC has hardly put a foot wrong so far this campaign, brushing aside Kildare and then Mt Austin during the round stages.

""It would be really exciting, it would be a great achievement." - Jamin Jolliffe"

Wagga High lost its opening game to Mater Dei but bounced back to post a big 50-0 victory over Kooringal on Monday night.

Jolliffe says TRAC can't afford to underestimate its opponent.

"I've watched (Wagga High) play twice and they're not a bad side," he said.

"They have a couple of good forwards, the Hay brothers are pretty good, and (five eighth) Zeik Foster has been playing well.

"We need to charge it up the guts.

"We have a pretty big forward pack and if we can hold onto the ball we should be able to beat them."

TRAC will be sweating on the fitness of a couple of key players ahead of the semi final.

Second rower Blake Jorgensen has been named in the team but is "feeling pretty sore", and is a chance of joining the likes of Zac Barry, Tom Van Der Rijt and Aaron Kimball on the sideline.

Halfback Jack Stubbs has proven his fitness and has been named to play.
POSSESSION THE KEY TO KILDARE'S CHANCES: MCNAMARA

KILDARE Catholic College coach Geoff McNamara has signalled "ball security" as the key to the team clinching a place in the Hardy Shield final.

Heading into a Hardy Shield semi-final showdown with Mater Dei Catholic College at Equex Centre tonight, McNamara yesterday stressed Kildare College could not afford to drift into bad habits.

"The players were very disappointed with how they played against TRAC (last week)," McNamara said yesterday.

"Our ball-security was atrocious – non-existent."

Ten days ago Kildare College opened the Hardy Shield with a fumbling 10-6 loss to The Riverina Anglican College (TRAC).

Despite squandering possession, Kildare College remarkably still held TRAC to just two tries.

As defending Hardy Shield champion, Kildare College was stung by the first round failure – and took out its frustration on Mount Austin High two nights later.

With the players obviously relishing the chance to make up for their misdemeanours of the earlier game, Kildare College turned on a near-faultless performance to smash hapless Mount Austin High 54-0.

Amid the wreckage of the landslide result, McNamara unearthed more than a few promising signs for Kildare College's title defence.

"Against Mount Austin they (players) basically fixed all those areas (of concern)," McNamara said.

"Obviously the opposition (Mount Austin High) was not as strong, but the team stuck right to it.

"The zero at the end was encouraging, too."

Like Mater Dei College, Kildare College has had a week between games, although several players fulfilled representative duty at the weekend.

McNamara admits the break has allowed the team to freshen up since playing its opening two games in three days last week.

"The week off hasn't done us any harm," he said.

"It's been the same for Mater Dei."

Searching for an edge in tonight's Hardy Shield grand final qualifier, McNamara put the team through a training session late yesterday.

"I just wanted to work on a few things and try a couple different combinations," he said.

McNamara is adamant there is little between any of the four teams in the semi-finals and is anticipating tight results.

"It's pretty close all round," he said.

"From the start of the year I thought that would be the case."

For Kildare College, halves Cameron Hands and Derek Hay and hooker Connor McCauley will carry a heavy burden - they must make the right plays tonight.

Significantly, however, the Kildare College coach says the forwards must first set the foundation.

"They have to realise their job is to get us going forward," he said.

There is absolutely no doubt the point will have been highlighted at yesterday's last-minute training session.
TRAC TAKING NO CHANCES IN HARDY SHIELD

THE Riverina Anglican College co-coach Michael Stubbs says it was a simple decision not to rest key players from a Hardy Shield dead-rubber at Equex Centre tonight.

Despite nothing hanging on the clash with Mt Austin High, Stubbs and joint coach Ross Kennedy have named a full-strength and powerful TRAC team.

Heading into the game, TRAC is assured of making the Hardy Shield finals on Wednesday, while Mt Austin High is completely out of contention.

TRAC, in fact, can claim top spot on the Hardy Shield table by handing Mt Austin another heavy loss - and that seems almost a formality.

Last week TRAC opened the Hardy Shield series with an impressive 10-6 victory over defending champion Kildare Catholic College.

Two days later Kildare College smashed Mt Austin 54-0 in another Shield tie to allow Kildare to clinch a spot in the semi-finals on Wednesday.

With Mt Austin High appearing to be set to be out of its depth tonight, Stubbs and Kennedy were expected to take the opportunity to stand down several star players, including fullback Ed Ansell, prop Jamin Jolliffe and second rower Blake Jorgensen.

Stubbs, however, is adamant the prospect of playing Mt Austin High with a second-string team was never on the agenda.

"No, we won't be resting players," Stubbs said.

"They (players) are all so keen to represent the school in a great competition."

TRAC is bidding for an historic first Hardy Shield win to sit beside last year's breakthrough triumph in the Carroll Cup final.

In contrast, Mt Austin High is on the ropes after a horror loss to Kildare College last week, and is doomed to finish last on the ladder.

At the other end of the football spectrum, Wagga High and Kooringal High will be duelling tonight for a place in the Hardy Shield finals.

Wagga High and Kooringal High were both first round losers, but the victor tonight will qualify for the finals.

After losing 14-8 to Mater Dei Catholic College in a first round game a week ago, Wagga High will be a desperate to make amends against Kooringal High, a team coming of a 20-0 loss to Mater Dei College last week.

With a semi-final position on the line, it hard to image Wagga high letting slip tonight's result.

Significantly, donations will be taken at the gate tonight for an appeal for Ganmain youngster Jake Underwood, who is fighting leukaemia.

Hardy Shield At Equex Centre

TRAC v MT AUSTIN HIGH (5.30pm)
TRAC Mt AUSTIN HIGH
1 Ed Ansell
2 Tom Prest
3 Drew Martin
4 Steve Dawson
5 Nick Donato
6 Daniel Downes
7 Jack Stubbs
8 Jamin Jolliffe
9 Aaron Kimball
10 Joe McNamara
11 Zac Barrie
12 Blake Jorgensen
13 Luke Murray (c)
Interchange:
14 John Downes
15 Tom Menzies
16 Pat Harris
17 Oscar Bischard
18 Henry Bennett
19 Lachlan Moore
20 Nick Perryman.

Coaches: Michael Stubbs & Ross Kennedy
Unavailable
WAGGA HIGH KOORINGAL HIGH
Unavailable 1 Cody Hodge
2 Connor Galvin
3 Jesse Uhr
4 Tom Jennings
5 Pierre Adriaenssens
6 Matt Clarke
7 Liam Carey
8 Kane Breust
9 Sam Humphries
10 Toby Youseff
11 Rhieanna Spooner
12 Mitch Bennett
13 Charles Callaghan
Interchange:
14 Jake Brain
15 Tom Schrader
16 Daniel Harry
17 Ben Hickey
18 Jacob Sadler-Knight
19 Dylan Smith.

Coach: Tim Wykes
Advertiser verdict

Les Muir - TRAC by 36 Wagga High by 26
Matt Malone - TRAC by 16 Wagga High 4
Simon Brunsdon - TRAC by 20 Wagga High by 16

Kildare playmaker Cameron Hands
Kildare playmaker Cameron Hands
KILDARE HAND OUT 54-POINT THUMPING IN HARDY SHIELD CLINIC

Hardy Shield

KILDARE coach Geoff McNamara says his players will relish the seven-day break before tackling the Hardy Shield semi-finals next week.

McNamara expects to go up against competition powerhouse Mater Dei and wants his troops fully rested for the big game.

"I think that works to our advantage that we get a break now," he said.

"Get rid of the bumps and bruises after two games.

"But I think we probably play Mater Dei next week and they get the bye as well, so it will be even Stevens on Wednesday."

Kildare shrugged off a shock round one loss to TRAC on Monday to bounce back and hand fledgling school Mt Austin a rugby league clinic at Equex Centre last night.

The Catholic college barely put a foot wrong as it rolled Mt Austin 54-0 in a blowout affair.

""I think the opposition wasn't as strong, but we kept to the game plan even though the scoreboard was making it very easy for us." - Kildare coach Geoff McNamara"

Winger Tim Vatubuli opened the scoring in the second minute of play and Kildare didn't look back as eight individual players shared in the nine tries.

Kildare's halves Derek Hay and Cameron Hands complemented the play by converting all nine tries.

McNamara was thrilled with the turnaround from two nights prior.

"A lot happier with tonight," McNamara said last night.

"The other day the boys just didn't apply themselves, didn't stick to their game plan.

"A lot of errors, we played like a bunch of individuals.

"Whereas they got their heads on tonight, they played as a team which was really pleasing from my point of view.

"I think the opposition wasn't as strong, but we kept to the game plan even though the scoreboard was making it very easy for us."

McNamara says he won't be making any changes as he prepares for the semi-final meet with Mater Dei.

"Obviously it's going to be stiffer opposition so we've got to do the same stuff and do it equally as well," he said.

"Hopefully the boys turn up with the same attitude and see how we go."

It wasn't all doom and gloom for Mt Austin, as the likes of playmakers Jerome Saffy and Tristan Dickson showed plenty of fight during the battle.

An injury in the second half to centre Aiden Vickers, however, was salt in the wounds for the losing team.

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Kooringal High needs to show passion: Tim Wykes
KOORINGAL HIGH NEEDS TO SHOW PASSION: TIM WYKES

Kooringal High needs to show passion: Tim Wykes

KOORINGAL High coach Tim Wykes says it is imperative the school's rug by league team matches the football fervour of Mater Dei Catholic College in a vital Hardy Shield tie at Equex Centre tonight.

Wykes yesterday made admitted he was impressed by the passion of the Mater Dei players as they defied powerful Wagga High in a tight Hardy Shield clash on Monday night.

"They (Mater Dei) looked really enthusiastic," Wykes said yesterday.

"We're going to have to be equally enthusiastic, and to keep our errors down.

"Every player has to be committed."

Wykes wise words came after Master Dei College made an impressive start to its Hardy Shield campaign by toppling Wagga High 14-8 at Equex Centre on Monday night.

Despite Wagga High having a high percentage of possession, Mater Dei College defied the odds to clinch a memorable victory.

With the teams locked at eight-all at half-time, Mater Dei College broke the deadlock early in the second half when outstanding second rower Isaac McKenzie created a try for fullback Sam Bramich.

Stepping into the clear in midfield, McKenzie produced a magic chip-and-chase manoeuvre before sending Bramich over for the winning try.

The skill and daring showcased McKenzie's potent potential, but it was the determined defence of all the Mater Dei College players that really carried the team home.

Often pinned deep in their own territory, Mater Dei College continually rebuffed Wagga High attackers, restricting the losers to only two tries from a mountain of possession.

Wykes said it was hard not to admire the courage of the Mater Dei College tacklers.

"They just kept putting their bodies on the line," Wykes said.

"There was great commitment from everyone."

Amid his admiration of Mater Dei College's opening success of the Hardy Shield competition, Wykes is "confident" Kooringal High can score a first-up win.

"We just have to deliver," he said.

"It's all about the players being prepared to play on the night.

"They (Mater Dei) showed that."

In a setback for Kooringal High, the school's star centre Matt Lyons will not play because of his commitments with the Canberra Raiders in the Harold Matthews Cup.

"He (Lyons) will run the water," Wykes said.

"He was never factored in (to play).

"He might play next year."

For Kooringal High, halfback Liam Carey, five-eighth Cody Hodge and hooker Sam Humphries will have the key roles of giving the team "direction" in attack.

In particular, Carey's duel with Mater Dei College half Lachlan Harper should be decisive as Harper was absolutely dynamic in Monday night's success against Wagga High.

Wykes is also sure to rely heavily on the Kooringal High pack to give the playmakers room to perform against the relentless Mater Dei College defenders.

Lock Charles Callaghan, who has a phenomenal work-rate, and prop Toby Youseff are two of Kooringal High's most reliable forwards, but Jesse Thompson will be a strike weapon off the bench .
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Mater Dei vice-captain Isaac McKenzie
Mater Dei vice-captain Isaac McKenzie
MATER DEI BRUSH ASIDE KOORINGAL ON WAY TO SEMI FINAL

Hardy Shield

MATER Dei has taken another step toward snatching back the coveted Hardy Shield from old schoolboy rival Kildare.

Mater Dei last night made it two wins from two outings by brushing aside a persistent Kooringal High outfit to win 20-0.

It followed a narrow 14-8 victory over Wagga High two nights earlier.

Experienced coach Daryl Lawrence was rapt with the performance backing up.

"It was about matching our enthusiasm that we had on Monday night, which I thought we did," Lawrence said.

"We base everything around our defence, if we get that right I'm happy and I thought our blokes across the park did an amazing job.

"You don't get a better captain than Billy (Ryder), and Isaac (McKenzie) as well, to lead that team around they do a great job.

"Kooringal, I reckon they are still a very good team and full credit to Wykesy and the job he does with them."

Mater Dei had a handful of outstanding players but it was hard to look past barnstorming second-rower Isaac McKenzie.

The vice-captain made countless metres with the ball in hand and was just as busy in defence for the winning team.

Centre Matt Collins also ran the ball efficiently while fullback Sam Bramich was brilliant bringing the ball up from fullback.

""It's either going to be TRAC, Mt Austin or Kildare and they are quality teams so we've just got to keep raising the bar." - Mater Dei coach Daryl Lawrence"

Mater Dei now has a seven-day rest before lining up for the semi-final.

"It's all about giving themselves the opportunity and we're in the semis now," Lawrence said.

"It's either going to be TRAC, Mt Austin or Kildare and they are quality teams so we've just got to keep raising the bar."

For Kooringal, speedy halfback Cody Hodge was impressive and almost bagged himself a try in the second half.

Big man Jesse Thompson had limited game time but was a wrecking ball when on the park.
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Kildare College ball-runner Derek Hay is held up close to the line by the TRAC defenders Ed Ansell and Daniel Downes in a Hardy Shield tie at Equex Centrre
SINKING FEELING: Kildare College ball-runner Derek Hay is held up close to the line by the TRAC defenders Ed Ansell and Daniel Downes in a Hardy Shield tie at Equex Centrre
TRAC COMES OF AGE IN HARDY SHIELD

THE rise of The Riverina Anglican College as a football power in Wagga continued last night when the school's rugby league team toppled Kildare Catholic College in the first round of the historic Hardy Shield at Equex Centre.
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Nine months after the school recorded a breakthrough success in the Carroll Cup final, TRAC created another significant milestone by overthrowing Kildare College 10-6.

Given a perfect start when hooker Aaron Kimball dived over for a try from dummy half in the third minute, TRAC led 4-0 at half-time before falling behind in the opening minutes of the second half.

Down 6-4 midway through the second half, TRAC rallied again to snatch back the lead as stylish fullback Ed Ansell steamed over for a try from a set-play in the 14th minute.

By the time centre Steve Dawson booted the conversion, TRAC was up 10-6 and part of the way to a memorable victory over last year's Hardy Shield champions.

Later as the players celebrated the triumph, TRAC joint coach and sports guru Michael Stubbs put the win in crystal-clear perspective.

A foundation staff TRAC member, Stubbs said beating Kildare College in rugby league was a monumental event for the school.

"This is one of our best (wins) without doubt," Stubbs said last night.

"We've been building to it – some of the boys have been together for years."

With a core of quality players including Ansell, Blake Jorgensen and Jack Stubbs, TRAC has developed from a rugby league minnow to sit beside the likes of Kildare College, Mater Dei College and Wagga High as a major player in the Hardy Shield.

In toppling Kildare College last night, TRAC came of age.

Last year TRAC led Kildare College in a Hardy Shield semi-final, but let down its guard and was trumped at the finish.

Kildare subsequently swept past Mater Dei College to claim the Hardy Shield title, while TRAC was left lamenting.

This time around, however, TRAC did not fall into any traps and maintained the pressure on the defending Shield holders.

Stubbs said later TRAC had set a foundation for its Hardy Shield campaign last night, but would not be complacent about its prospects.

"This is a good start, but we now have to think about playing Mount Austin High next Monday," Stubbs said.

"We'll look at Mount Austin on Wednesday night and take that into next week's game."

TRAC will have the Hardy Shield bye tomorrow night before meeting Mount Austin High in a rubber at Equex Centre on Monday.

For TRAC last night, fullback Ansell was superb, but gun prop Jamin Jolliffe and halfbacks Stubbs and Kimball also shone.

Ansell ran with power and grace, while Jolliffe muscled up defence and attack.

Ansell's try in the 39th minute was the game-breaker and was orchestrated brilliantly by five-eighth Daniel Downes.

From a scrum win, Downes drifted right to link with Ansell who zoomed over for a try with a minimum of fuss.

Kildare College has its stars, with none better than halfback Cameron Hands or hooker Conoe Macauley, who scored the team's only try.

TRAC winger Nic Donato made a favourable impression as well, running with speed and courage.

Full-time

Hardy Shield at Equex Centre

THE RIVERINA ANGLICAN COLLEGE 10 (Aaron Kimball, Ed Ansell tries; Steve Dawson goals) d KILDARE CATHOLIC COLLEGE 6 (Conor Macauley try; Cameron Hands goal) Scrums: 5-6. Penalties: 3-5.

MATER DEI CATHOLIC COLLEGE 14 (Sam Bramich, Jack Strutt, Brayden Ambler tries; Matt Collins goal) d WAGGA HIGH 8 (Campbell Lovell, Tony Popple tries) Scrums: 3-3. Penalties: 6-6

Draw for Wednesday

Round 6 at Equex Centre

5.30pm: Mater Dei Catholic College v Kooringal High

6.30pm: Kildare Catholic College v Mt Austin High
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TRAC PROP ITCHING TO GET AT KILDARE PACK

TEENAGE front rower Jamin Jolliffe knows the time for cooling his heels is almost over.

After a lead-up campaign that started six months ago, Jolliffe is about to get a crack at trying to win the coveted Hardy Shield for the first time for The Riverina Anglican College.

One of the most promising and imposing young forwards in Wagga, Jolliffe, and his TRAC team-mates, will confront last year's Hardy Shield champions Kildare Catholic College in the first round of the 2014 edition at Equex Centre today.

Kildare College was crowed king of the Hardy Shield after beating Mater Dei Catholic College in the final at the same venue twelve months ago.

And TRAC co-coach Michael Stubbs is adamant Kildare College again has the personnel to again take a powerful shot at the Hardy Shield title.

Speaking to The Daily Advertiser yesterday, Stubbs said Kildare College had retained the bulk of the team that eclipsed the Hardy Shield in 2013.

"They had a pretty young team when they won last year," Stubbs said.

"I think they've only lost two of three players."

Heading into the most important schoolboy rugby league competition in the Riverina, Stubbs says Kildare College and Wagga High are TRAC's fiercest rivals for Hardy Shield honours.

"They're probably the two benchmarks," he said.

"I'm glad we haven't got Wagga High in our pool. Hopefully we can meet them in the semi-finals."

Stubbs says the TRAC team is primed and ready for the challenge of toppling the two powerhouse Wagga school teams.

Singling out Jolliffe, Stubbs admitted the 17-year-old prop seemed to be counting down the minutes before he was let loose on the Hardy Shield.

"Jamin loves the game (rugby league)," Stubbs said.

"He's always one of the boys who'll be kicking the footy at school whenever they can."

For TRAC, the showdown with Kildare College is the culmination on an extended training schedule.

"The team started training mid term four (last year) for an hour a week," Stubbs said.

"They'd be looking forward to it by now."

TRAC, which blew a lead before losing to Kildare College in a Hardy Shield semi-final last year, will have targets on three key rivals tonight.

Kildare halves Cameron Hands and Derek Hay and hooker Conor Macauley are all game-breakers - a fact that will not be lost on their rivals.

The trio were muzzled by TRAC for the majority of the semi-final in 2013, but broke the shackles to deliver the winning strike in the final 12 minutes.

Stubbs, meantime, is delighted the Hardy Shield rubbers will be played at Wagga's top league venue.

He said Wagga City Council, Wagga Rugby League and CRL deserved plaudits for allowing the entire Hardy Shield series to be played at Equex Centre.

"They've all been very helpful," he said.

Last year's Shield runner-up, Mater Dei Catholic College, will play Wagga High in the other game tonight, with Zeik Foster and brothers James and Nick Hay the danger players for Wagga High.

Hardy Shield - round 1

Today at Equex Centre
   
KILDARE COLLEGE v TRAC
Jack Last 1 Ed Ansell
Jarrod Laurent 2 Tim Prest
Tim Vatubuli 3 Drew Martin
Jesse Lawrence 4 Steve Dawson
Lachie Gaffney 5 Nic Donato
Cameron Hands 6 Daniel Downes
Derek Hay 7 Jack Stubbs
Tim Kopecny 8 Jamin Jolliffe
Conor Macauley 9 Aaron Kimball
Royce Tout 10 Joe McNamara
Jono Carroll 11 Zac Barrie
Jono Curran 12 Blake Jorgensen
Sam Schiller 13 Luke Murray (c)
Interchange
Isaac Boorer 14 John Downes
Ryan Blencowe 15 Tom Menzies
Rhys Graham 16 Pat Harris
Tom Luff 17 Oscar Bischard
Mannie Duck 18 Tom Van Der Rijt
Harry Fitzsimmons 19 Lachlan Moore
Will Campbell 20 Nick Perryman
  21 Liam Parnell
COACH   COACHES
Geoff McNamara   Michael Stubbs & Ross Kennedy
     
MATER DEI COLLEGE v WAGGA HIGH
Sam Bramich 1 Cameron Andrews
Patrick Maher 2 Zachary Tinning
Harry Himmelberg 3 Nicholas Trevaskis
Brayden Ambler 4 Campbell Lovell
Ayden Hill 5 Carter Lovell
Lachlan Harper 6 Zeik Foster
Nick Leary 7 Jonathon Lally
Billy Ryder (c) 8 James Hay
Jack Strutt 9 Eddie Jackson-Brennan
Liam Dedini 10 Nick Hay
Isaac Mackenzie (vc) 11 Chris Leywood
Matt Collins 12 Brandon Fox
Matt Geppert 13 Nicholas Orr
Interchange
Ben Melton 14 Joseph Leggatt
Joe Melton 15 Poloma Huntley
Matthew Fletcher 16 Connor Warnes
Riley Flint 17 Jackson Carey
Louis Beard 18 Toby Popple
Elias Mackenzie 19 Brad Stewart
  20 Joseph Hand
COACH   COACH
Daryl Lawrence   Brent Merritt
     
HARDY SHIELD VERDICT

Les Muir

TRAC by 4

Wagga High by 10

Simon Brunsdon

Kildare by 8

Mater Dei by 2

     
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Kildare Catholic College win 2013 Hardy Shield
Kildare Catholic College win 2013 Hardy Shield
HARDY SHIELD IN LIMBO

The iconic Hardy Shield schoolboy rugby league competition is in turmoil after three schools pulled out in protest over a change in the format.

The Hardy Shield was originally scheduled to start this week, but has now been postponed as organisers strive to find a solution to the impasse.

Former Shield convener Andrew Morton yesterday confirmed the first round of the competition had been stalled due to opposition from several schools over the format.

Morton said three of the seven Wagga schools had abandoned the Hardy Shield when it was announced the competition would be a "round robin" played over a month.

"They (schools) refused to play in the round robin format in which every school played each other once," Morton said.

Amid the drama, Morton has resigned as convener and is unsure who has taken up the role.

In the past, the Hardy Shield had been played under a pools format, with teams playing only two lead-up games before the finals.

Mr. Simon Huntley President of the NSW CCC - Parramatta Eels SG Ball Vs NSW CCC U 18's (Photo : ourfooty media)
Water - boy, Mr. Simon Huntley President of the NSW CCC - Parramatta Eels SG Ball Vs NSW CCC U 18's 2008 (Photo : steve monty / ourfooty media)

Under this system, the Hardy Shield was restricted to a shorter time frame, which apparently suited all schools.

However, the competition was extended by two weeks when the decision was made to switch to a round-robin format, causing schools to react savagely.

It is understood the principals of three Wagga schools sent emails on March 6 to effectively withdraw their teams from the historic Hardy Shield.

One of the oldest school league competitions in the Riverina, the Hardy Shield has produced some of Wagga's greatest rugby league figures, including Peter Sterling.

In a bid to keep the Hardy Shield alive, a revised draw, featuring teams in pools, will be made, but a fresh starting date is unknown.

OurFootyTeam spoke to Simon Huntley, former successful Australian Schoolboys coach and head waterboy at Kildare Catholic College at Wagga Wagga on Wednesday morning.

Mr. Huntley said "the new format which is a knock out competition had to be extended by 2 weeks and this interfears with a few schools other sporting and other commitments" Will there be a Hardy Shield in the Future Simon, " we are hoping so yes Steve"

 
 
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ACTION PHOTO'S
ROUND 1 ROUND 2
SHARKS v DRAGONS SHARKS v TIGERS
ROUND 3 ROUND 4
RABBITOH's v STORM SHARKS v ROOSTERS
BULLDOGS v RABITTOHS
ROUND 5 ROUND 6
MAGPIES v SHARKS RABBITOHS v KNIGHTS
ROUND 7 ROUND 8
SHARKS v BULLDOGS  
ROUND 9 ROUND 10

 
ROUND 11 - SEMI FINALS ROUND 12 - QUALIFYING FINALS
 
ROUND 13 ROUND 14
National Club Champs
   
ACADEMY / JUNIOR REP TRIALS
Souths v Cronulla Mattys Cup
(Fri 13 Dec @ Erko

Cronulla v Canberra Mattys Cup
( Sat 25 Jan 14 @ Cronulla

Cronulla v SWSAS - Mattys Cup
(Sat 25 Jan 14 @ Cronulla
SWSAS v Canberra - Mattys Cup
( Sat 25 Jan 14 @ Cronulla)
Cronulla v Wests - Mattys Cup TRIAL
(Sat 08 Feb @ Cronulla)
Cronulla v Wests - SG Ball Cup TRIAL
(Sat 08 Feb @ Cronulla)
SHARKS ACADEMY U14s v SWSAS
(Sat 08 Feb @ Cronulla)
ROUND 1 ROUND 2
SHARKS v DRAGONS SHARKS v TIGERS
ROUND 3 ROUND 4
RABBITOH's v STORM SHARKS v ROOSTERS
BULLDOGS v RABITTOHS
ROUND 5 ROUND 6
MAGPIES v SHARKS
RABBITOHS v KNIGHTS
ROUND 7 ROUND 8
SHARKS v BULLDOGS  
ROUND 9 ROUND 10
   
ROUND 11 - SEMI FINALS ROUND 12 - QUALIFYING FINALS
   
ROUND 13 ROUND 14
National Club Champs
   
NRL/TOYOTA CUP/NSWRL CUP
Rnd 1
SHARKS v TITANS
| NRL | u 20s |
BULLDOGS v SHARKS
  WESTSTIGERS v SHARKS
Rnd 3
SHARKS v DRAGONS
| NRL | u 20s |
SHARKS v CUTTERS
 
Souths v Cronulla SG Ball Cup (13Dec @ Erko )
Cronulla v Canberra SG Ball
(Sat 25 Jan 14 @ Cronulla)
SHARKS v SEAEALGES (NRL 20's trial)
SHARKS v WESTSTIGERS (Trial)
| U 20s | NSWCUP | NRL |
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