|NQ GIANT HITS TURF RUNNING
THE giant of North Queensland schoolboy rugby league dominated at Mackay State High School yesterday.
Kirwan State High School arrived late for the Super 8 match at Mackay High's oval and virtually got off the bus running but didn’t miss a beat, putting on three tries for a match-winning 18-0 lead at half-time.
Despite a Marmin Barba-inspired fightback, Kirwan wrapped up the match 30-12 to confirm their status as the north's rugby league powerhouse.
But Kirwan coach Todd Wilson praised Mackay High's effort against a team stacked with NRL club scholarship holders.
"Mackay High is a young side, they’re going to be a force in the next few years," he said.
Kirwan's rugby league program has a big headstart on Mackay High’s, as it has been going for 10 years, and has produced some big names in the NRL, including the Broncos' Sam Thiaday and the Cowboys' Aaron Payne and Jacob Lillyman.
More are to come, as the side's halfback Ray Thompson played for the Cowboys Young Guns in the State League on the weekend.
Another who looks destined for the NRL is bustling centre Joe Moa, who proved virtually impossible to tackle yesterday.
He did lots of damage early as Kirwan started the first half with a gale at their backs, running in tries by five-eighth Matthew Monaghan and halfback Thompson before Moa crashed through for a try just before the break.
"He (Moa) is a New Zealander who's just joined the school," Wilson said.
The second half looked to be more of the same with Kirwan pouring on the pressure through strong forward play, but livewire Mackay High halfback Marmin Barba brought the game and the crowd of school students alive with a brilliant intercept and runaway try.
Barba followed that up with a perfectly weighted cross kick for winger Dylan Sadd, who leapt high to grab the ball above the Kirwan defence, and Barba’s conversion from out wide had Mackay High back in the game at 18-12 down.
But Moa put Kirwan back on the front foot, crashing his way through numerous attempted tackles before being held up in goal. From the resulting tap Kirwan went wide to centre Sean Lynch who found the defence wanting, and Kirwan wrapped it up with another try to Thompson.
The Super 8 competition pits the north's best rugby league schools in a round-robin competition, and is a curtain-raiser to the Arrive Alive Cup nation-wide schools competition which starts next month.