THE ACT Brumbies under 14s have been crowned NSW Junior Rugby Union state champions after surviving a late Gordon comeback to claim a thrilling Endeavour Oval decider 17-10.
Forced to come from behind after trailing 10-5 at the break, the junior Brumbies capitalised on a dominant second half through tries to No.8 Jackson Kennett and fullback Charlie Woolford, with a cracking sideline conversion from Joe Caputo bumping the ACT out to a seven-point advantage on Monday.
But a late Gordon fightback inside the final five minutes made for a tense championship finale.
Forced to defend for the majority of that time, the Brumbies repelled a number of promising Highlander attacking phases, with the best a short-side raid that put Dominic Easy in space and in sight of a crucial five-pointer.
But the Gordon inside centre’s shot was thwarted by the ever-present cover defence of the ACT side, a facet of play that proved a highlight of the Brumbies’ 2014 campaign.
The ACT ended the game a man down after breakaway Kali Taiseni was handed a yellow card for a lifting tackle but Gordon couldn’t take advantage of the numbers as the Brumbies held on to claim the 2014 championship.
“We’ve been pretty tight with our defence all tournament, we’ve only leaked two tries,” Brumbies coach Marco Caputo said, his side comprehensively defeating Norths 29-5 in the first semi-final.
“We had two or three opportunities and we took them, but Gordon used the ball, we knew that, and we prepared well for it.”
After accounting for a huge Illawarra outfit 17-7 in the second semi-final to qualify, it was Gordon who began the final the better of the two with slick halfback David Tejcek darting over to score the game’s first try after 15 minutes.
The scores were soon locked, however, when Brumbies inside centre Jack Gilmour - one of his side’s best throughout the entire final - floated a lovely pass for winger Tom Haddad to score in the corner.
In a topsy turvey opening half, momentum again swung with Gordon No.8 Ben Collins barging over to bump his side out to a 10-5 lead headed into the break.
But from there it was all ACT.
“They’ve got a good little rivalry going,” Caputo continued, with the quality of rugby at Endeavour Oval throughout Monday’s finals very impressive.
“They’ve played against each other the last couple of seasons at this stage of the season. Two evenly matched teams, and for an under 14s game today it was a really good standard and both teams played positively and we were lucky today.”
ACT BRUMBIES 17 (Jackson Kennett, Charlie Woolford, Tom Haddad tries; Joe Caputo conv) def GORDON 10 (Ben Collins, David Tejcek tries).