Remember the name Joseph Suaalii.
The Eastwood sensation led his side to the NSW Junior Rugby Union Under 14s State Championship title at Endeavour Oval on Monday, scoring three tries and having a hand in two others as the Woodies ran out 45-12 winners over Gordon.
Incredibly tall, fleet-of-foot and with a side step that left defenders in his wake, Suaalii has the rugby world at his very big feet – and coach Peter Campton said his unbelievably gifted fullback is virtually the complete player.
He’s an exceptional talent, he can do everything.Eastwood coach Peter Campton on Joseph Suaalii
“He’s an exceptional talent, he can do everything and I think, not only that, but he’s a really good leader on the field and the boys love that,” Campton said.
It’s the second year running Campton’s team has taken out a state championship, having also won the under 13s crown 29-5 in 2016.
That grand final win was also against Gordon, a side, despite being physically out-matched, played patches of brilliant rugby.
“It’s fantastic,” Campton continued.
“We were state champions in the under 13s and we’re thrilled to be able to back it up.
“We’ve got good structures, but the boys are willing and prepared to engage and listen in order to play the game in a really good manner.
“And as you saw out there today, they really spread the ball wide.”
Capping a fine three days at Endeavour Oval, Gordon started the better of the two sides in the final and big No.8 Matt Butler crashed over to score his side’s first points.
Isaac Hooper nudged home the conversion and Gordon led 7-0.
But they soon lost Butler to a nasty concussion and Eastwood bagged its first points through Suaalii, the gun striding out to score a great try – Terrell Kalokalo’s conversion was successful and the scores were level.
The Suaalii-Kalokalo was a stand-out combination for the Woodies, while the work of inside centre John Sagaga also helped give the blue and whites plenty of mid-field punch.
In fact, all three shared the seven tries Eastwood scored in the grand final, the final five-pointer started by a lovely cut-out ball from Suaalii to Kalokalo before the explosive centre popped a lovely ball to Sagaga to score under the posts.
Felix Connors booted the final conversion to round out the 45-12 win, Gordon’s other try coming from Max Purcell.
Gordon lost Tom Shannon after he was handed a yellow card for a dangerous challenge on an Eastwood player in the air, but the eventual state champions didn’t have enough time left on the clock to take full advantage of the extra man.
Comprehensive victors, Campton couldn't have been more glowing about the event run by Orange City and Orange Emus junior rugby clubs.
The title winning Eastwood coach believes each state championship event should be taken to country areas, with the successfully run Endeavour Oval event the perfect blueprint for potential hosts to follow.