This season may be City of Orange Touch Association’s first taste of the Vawdon Cup – NSW Touch Football’s premier competition – but there’s little doubt the Thunder are proving they can match it with the best.
In a new initiative designed to give their up-and-comers the best chance possible to excel, COTA made the decision to send two youth sides to compete in the 2018 Vawdon Cup, a boys’ and girls’ outfit.
It’s a massive commitment considering that means travelling to Sydney every week to play, but so far the two sides’ results are more than justifying that effort.
Through six rounds COTA’s girls’ outfit is running fourth of eight in division one while the boys’ side is sitting fifth of nine.
“Considering the amount of travel they’re doing, the two sides have done really well so far,” COTA representative coordinator Joel Begnell said.
“Even I’ve struggled a bit with the travel, so I can only imagine how the players feel after playing games as well.
“With representative touch, it’s basically just during the summer so we wanted to give these players a chance to play through the winter as well, and it it also keeps them working through that pathway as well.
“It’s the certainly the first time a team west of Penrith has entered that I know of, so it’s very new for us and a big move, but certainly one we want to keep on the calendar.”
So far the girls’ side have had three wins from six starts, with a draw and two losses as well.
One of those losses came in their debut game back in late July, a 3-2 defeat at the hands of third-placed Balmain.
They drew 6-all with Penrith after that before taking down Northern Beaches Renegades 4-2 to score their maiden win.
Making the finals would be a massive achievement .COTA's Joel Begnell
A narrow, 5-4 defeat to second-placed Manly Warringah followed that before the young Thunder side picked up back-to-back wins over Central Coast (4-2) and Eastern Suburbs (11-3).
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The boys’ side started their campaign with a 7-all draw with Balmain then a 9-5 loss to Eastern Suburbs. They bounced back with an 11-1 hammering of Ryde-Eastwood and then a 7-6 win over Parramatta.
They lost last-start, going down 4-2 to the fourth-placed Hills Hornets.
“Both sides did start a little slowly but as they’ve got used to the travel and that sort of thing they’ve started playing some really good touch, the girls’ side in particular is really starting to hit its straps,” Begnell said.
“Now that winter sports are wrapping up touch will start becoming a bigger focus for all of them as well, so I think they’re only going to get better. They’re certainly meeting, and exceeding, our expectations.”
The two sides head to Sydney this weekend for the seventh and eighth rounds, played as a double-header on Sunday.
The girls’ side looks to keep its winning streak going against powerhouse competition-leaders Parramatta before taking on Central Coast.
The boys’ outfit will look to bounce back against sixth-placed Bankstown, before facing the second-placed LBM Rangers in an inevitably tough encounter.
The competition keeps running all the way through until the end of October and, considering their standings now, Begnell said the goal of making the finals is a very realistic one.
“That’s the first goal, for both sides to make the finals series’,” he said.
“After that, anything is a bonus, and even making the finals would be a massive achievement in their first year in the competition.”