IN an environment where bigger is always better, and the biggest will inevitably win, a diminutive Central West outfit had its back against the wall at the 2012 NSW Junior Rugby Union under 14s state championship at Endeavour Oval.
But no one told them.
Underdogs from the get-go, the Central West under 14s went down 13-12 in their first game against the Central Coast after the visitors were awarded a penalty right in front of the sticks late in the contest to get out of jail and record a one-point win.
In their second game on Saturday, Central West then recorded what many thought virtually impossible, beating rugby strong-hold Randwick 33-17 to win their first game of the championship.
“It’s absolutely outstanding,” coach Matt Winslade said.
“To see how far these boys have come from the start of the year is amazing. They’ve come from all different towns to come together and in the first game when we went to Country Week they were just a bit nervous and timid. To see the kids who ran off the field yesterday beating Randwick, absolutely amazing transformation.
“They have just gelled and worked so hard. We’re really, really pleased with them.”
In Central West’s final Pool A game yesterday, they went down to Gordon, hot favourites to take out today’s final at TG Millner field in Eastwood, 69-0.
But the big loss couldn’t dent what Central West achieved in the two days of rugby.
“One of the biggest things for us is we’re going into next year’s Country Championships confident that we belong. Now they know,” the mentor said.
Winslade believes his side used speed to get around their bigger opposition.
“We’ve worked really hard on the idea of playing our own footy, which is running and passing the ball wide,” he said.
“We try and attack the outside centre and wing whereas a lot of these bigger guys just punch it up the middle. We’ve just tried to play a completely different way across the paddock and it’s worked for us.
“Jack Veitch (Orange City) at outside centre, outstanding both defensively and in attack.
“Right across the board, 22 kids, fantastic.”
In the money games at Endeavour Oval yesterday Gordon defeated Northern Suburbs in the first semi-final 19-10 and will meet the ACT Brumbies in the decider after they accounted for Penrith 31-17 in semi-final two.
The ACT Brumbies take on Gordon from 11.25am today at Eastwood in the final of the under 14s championship.
“They’re both outstanding sides. They’re just a step above and I think it’ll be a fantastic game,” Winslade said.