THE CRESCENT Head Sevens is a fixture on the Australian rugby calendar, hosted by the Kempsey Cannonballs and featuring local sides as well as crowd favourites like the NSW Fiji side.
For the first time this year, and Under 16s division was contested as well as the usual men’s and women’s sections.
The Bowraville Goannas RUFC gathered a group of intrepid local lads to represent the Valley and thanks to major club sponsors Bowra Hotel who provided a bus free of charge.
The opening game saw the Geckoes defeat Hastings Vikings 15-10. Hastings scored two tries to take an early lead but the Bowra boys rallied with tries to Flynn Watts, Lachlan Jones and Mitchell Williamson Roe.
The second game was against a strong SCU Marlins White team. The young Goannas opened on fire – having a try disallowed and Ryan Atkin scoring in the fourth minute – but the opposition rallied and played good rugby to inflict a 24-5 defeat.
The young Bowra side could have given in but rallied when they realised a defeat of the Coffs Snappers could see them finish second in their group and still qualify for the semis.
The young Goannas learned from the mistakes of their previous game and came out worthy winners 20-nil, with tries to Callum Denison, Connor Peterkin, Blake Brunsdon and Flynn Watts, setting up a semi-final with Marlins Blue. In a tough encounter the Geckoes prevailed 10-5 to cause a major boilover with Callum Denison scoring the first and the Rooster throwing a masterful inside ball to Ryan Atkin after five phases to secure victory.
The local Cannonballs defeated Marlin Whites by a big margin to set up the final, unexpectedly, of the two smallest towns in the competition.
In a pulsating decider, the young Goannas scored early through flyer Flynn Watts to go 5-nil up. They scored again under the posts through Blake Brunsdon but failed to convert …10-nil. Going into halftime Callum Dennison looked to have sealed the match by halftime with a 50-metre try under the posts on the siren, only to be denied by a ruling of a shoulder charge in a previous play and a penalty to Kempsey after the bell. Fortunately the lads dug deep to keep them out with Tylor Ballard making a memorable solo run from a Kempsey mistake to take them safely to half time.
The second half saw Kempsey dominate possession and score close to the posts to reduce the deficit to 10-7. The young Goannas rallied again with Heath Galvin scoring out wide, pushing the score to 15-7 with the drop goal conversion again unsuccessful. In a pulsating finish to the match the young Cannonballs spurred on by a vocal home crowd scored out wide to take the score to 15-12. A magnificent, nerveless sideline conversion saw the score at 15-14 Goannas.
An extremely nervous Goannas coaching staff were riding the clock with all the momentum with the locals. The kick-off went long to be gobbled up by inspirational captain Jasper Valentine Boxsall who took the ball to ground and Mitchell Williamson Roe sent it dead for the Geckoes victory.
Much celebration and jubilation was to be had with the immortal Wokka, wokka, wokka chant heard many times over the following hours.
Thanks to the Kempsey Cannonballs RUFC for involving the 16s for the first time.
Congratulations to all the other clubs for their efforts and sportsmanship on the day.
Thanks also to all the parents who came down and supported the lads on what was a truly memorable day.
Thank you to the Goannas sponsors without whom we would not have a club. It was you who donated club shirts so the lads turned up at the ground looking like a rugby team, giving them the confidence to play like one. It really made a difference. We look forward to entering next year and winning the silverware for two years in a row … Wokka, wokka, wokka!
- by Mick Baines and Dan Franks