Public schools claim state rugby league double
A remarkable day of rugby league resulted in two state titles for public schools. Glenn Cullen reports.
30 August 2023
It was a golden day for public school rugby league as Hills Sports High School claimed the inaugural Schoolgirl Cup while Westfields Sports High pulled off a stunning comeback win in the Schoolboy Cup.
Campbelltown Stadium was abuzz as both the sports high schools withstood dramas to register victories.
Hills triumphed 20-14 over Erindale College before Westfields claimed a nerve-jangling 18-17 win in the final two minutes of play over Patrician Brothers Blacktown.
With girls and women’s sport continuing to go from strength to strength after the remarkable feats of the Matildas at the recent World Cup, the Hills team was happy to continue flying the flag in a hugely entertaining first-ever girls final.
The game looked in the bag midway through the second half after a scything run from a scrum set-piece by Manua Moleka resulted in a try under the posts and a 20-4 scoreline in favour of Hills.
But Erindale refused to concede, laying on back-to-back tries to set up a grandstand finish.
The Erindale team peppered the line in the dying minutes, but could not find a way through, Hills holding on to claim the title.
Hills coach Patricia Raikadroka was overjoyed with the win.
“We knew they’d be coming back and putting a lot of pressure on us – but we trained for that,” she said.
“I think the girls showed a lot of resilience, and that has been the key for us all competition.”
A semi-final victory over the fancied Westfields Sports High team the week before was a driving force for Hills and the side carried that momentum through to the decider.
Captain Tayleah Pasili said the victorey was still sinking in.
“It was a really big effort from the girls – we’re history makers,” she said.
The Westfield Sports High boys team looked to be in for a tough afternoon as Patrician Brothers laid on the first two tries of the match to skip out to a 12-0 lead.
Following a brutal semi-final win over Erindale College, Westfields looked a little flat early – but found inspiration through a 60-metre run by five-eighth Lachlan Galvin.
The play ultimately led to a try and put Westfields back in the match, with the score sitting at 13-6 at the break.
The teams traded second half tries before Westfields bombed what seemed a certain try over the line with three minutes to go, seemingly leaving the team’s title hopes in tatters.
But less than a minute later Roy Quiroz-Mapusoa crashed over near the posts, leaving a simple conversion for Westfields to claim the school’s first title since 2019.
Coach Troy Weeden was a relieved man as the final whistle blew.
“It was harder than what is should have been … but we spoke about it at halftime – the game was there to be won in the last minute,” he said.
Hills and Westfields will now play the winning Queensland teams for the national title in Sydney on 13 September.