Nambucca Heads Roosters Under 12 rugby league team wins last spot in the grand final against Sawtell

The Roosters Under 12s sans Wilson Baade and Koby Hamilton-Giggins. Two Under 11s - Tully Pope and Jaxon White - have also been helping out the side over the past few weeks.
The Roosters Under 12s sans Wilson Baade and Koby Hamilton-Giggins. Two Under 11s - Tully Pope and Jaxon White - have also been helping out the side over the past few weeks.

Both Nambucca Valley clubs battled it out for their place in the big dance against the Panthers in Saturday's Group 2 Junior rugby league Under 12 preliminary final.

The Nambucca Heads Roosters and the Bowraville Tigers are such fierce competitors that last year the two teams had to share the premiership.

This year, however, the two Under 12 Sawtell teams combined forces to throw a spanner in the works of that happy compromise.

The Panthers shot to the top of the table, and our teams had to vie for second place.

With only two losses and a draw throughout the competition rounds, the Roosters earned their ticket into the major semifinal against Sawtell.

It could have been anyone's game that day; the Roosters were victorious over the Panthers in the first round of competition, but the second time they played one another it was Sawtell who triumphed after a very late try, in what many in Group 2 have dubbed the best match they've seen in a very long time.

The semi was a different story, however, with the Panthers commanding a convincing lead and winning by 18 points.

"We'd had a week off from training and matches and that didn't really suit our team," coach Geoff Batten said.

The Roosters had one last shot to continue their campaign for back-to-back premierships in a showdown against Bowra in Bellingen on Saturday.

The Tigers were unlucky to have one of their key players sporting an injury.

But it was another thrilling match, regardless, and the Roosters tamed the Tigers into submission (12-6) and booked their spot in the grand final to be held at Kempsey this weekend.

The Bowra Tigers and Nambucca Roosters recently helped raise awareness together for the Valley's RUOK? campaign.

The Bowra Tigers and Nambucca Roosters recently helped raise awareness together for the Valley's RUOK? campaign.

Geoff Batten isn't counting his chickens yet, but he's quietly confident his team could bring it home, with the Roosters' momentum building over the past three games.

"We've got some decent-sized boys in the forwards," he said.

Renzo Sultan is the leader of the forward pack and has been an asset to the team.

"It's only his second season, but he's played a full game for us each week and he consistently works hard," Geoff said.

And Toby Batten, fresh from his NSW representative duties, is undoubtedly a player that has made a huge difference to the side.

But Geoff said that the whole team has worked hard this year and consistency of ability has increased across the board, meaning there's less need for standout individual performances.

"I think we're in for a good chance. If we perform to our ability, I think we could win," Geoff said.

And this time around the Roosters will be more aware of Sawtell's Joseph Bull - a real talent who surprised Nambucca and scored three of the tries against our boys in the semi final match.

"People who are marking him will be a lot more alert this time around," Geoff said.

It would mean a lot to the Roosters Club - in the midst of a concerted effort to build themselves back up again - to come home with a premiership this weekend.

And as competitive footy is being phased out this year for this age division in Group 2, it would definitely be something to crow about to be crowned the last Under 12 premiers.

Match kickoff is at 9am at the Verges St Oval in Kempsey. And then at 1pm the combined Nambucca Valley Tigers Under 15 side will fight for Group 2 glory against the Comets.

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