The Manildra Rhinos were hopeful, rather than expectant, of doing well in this year’s Woodbridge Cup – the club’s first season back after folding prior to the 2013 season.
Well, their hopes were justified.
In a magnificent performance from the club 2016 netted the Rhinos one premiership, two third finishes and a number of the competition’s individual awards.
The Rhinos’ claimed the Woodbridge Cup youth league (under-19) title on Sunday afternoon in Canowindra, with a thrilling grand final win over red-hot favourites and minor premiers Binalong.
The Rhinos led 12-6 with almost no time left on the clock before the Brahmans scored out wide following a late attacking raid.
Although the conversion attempt missed Binalong slotted a penalty goal to send the game into extra-time, and it took a special individual effort from Rhinos playmaker Brock Campbell to push Manildra back into the lead.
His try in the first period of extra-time ultimately sealed the win for the Red V.
That came a week after the Rhinos’ first grade and league tag sides performed admirably in their preliminary final losses, leaving the two sides third.
“It was a really good year for the club and a great way to start back competing,” Manildra youth league coach Scott Campbell said;.
“The youth league side was filled with a great bunch of kids. They gelled together really well.
“I think everyone at the club knew we had the talent there to do well in all three grades.”
That premiership-winning try capped off a magical year for Brock Campbell, who was also named the youth league player of the year and was the competition’s leading try and point-scorer.
He crossed for 16 four-pointers and scored 140 points overall.
He wasn’t the only Rhino to earn that type of individual success either.
Mitch Gibson won the Alex Armstrong Medal for the top grade’s player of the year and Heidi Regan won the league tag equivalent.
Like Campbell, she topped the try and point-scoring lists in league tag too, with 42 and 168 respectively.
Those 42 tries came in just 21 games at a phenomenal average of two four-pointers per fixture.
“It was great to see the other grades pick up those awards,” Campbell said.
“Mitch Gibson did a great job and Heidi Regan too, scoring all those tries then picking up player of the year as well.
“We’ve got out presentation night this Friday so it’ll be a good way to finish, I think at least 60 or 70 per cent of the youth league side can still play next year too and I think a lot of the players from the other grades will come back as well.”