The new generation of league stars
By GREG WHITE
THE central region of Group 2 continued it's dominance of rugby league during 2005 at the Beautizone junior grand finals played before a near record crowd at Coffs Harbour International Sports Stadium on Saturday. Hot on the heels of Macksville's win in first grade and the triumph of Nambucca Heads in the under-18s last weekend, central teams won four of the seven games decided, with many from the premier Roosters side backing up to take the coveted under-16 title. Competition recorder Penny George says it's an amazing achievement for the area. "It's quite scary," she remarked. "After what happened last Sunday, just think how much talent will be filtering through the Nambucca and Macksville clubs over the next few years." Among many highlights from the season, George pointed to the under-13 premiership victory by Dungutti Broncos as being amongst the best. "These youngsters did it the hard way," she said. "They survived a playoff for fourth to get them into the finals and never looked back, eventually taking the premiership in a close decision over the Roosters." Bowraville club took one of the biggest honours, adding the day's 'top club' award to their club championship. Represented in three grand finals, the Bowra boys ended the day with a hat-trick of titles. Group 2 officials are crediting Macksville seniors for much of the resurgence of the junior code in the area. "In the last week alone we've had dozens of youngsters indicating they want to be part of the sport," one noted. "They've seen what Paul Davis and his team have done and want to emulate them by starting out with a local junior club." Despite representation by northern clubs being down this year, it's felt this won't be a hindrance long term. "The senior competition is extremely important to how kids see football," the administrator said. "Kids are very particular in their choices and clubs like Orara are developing a huge cult following. "Brad Hart especially is a favourite amongst the kids and has become a great role model." But if there was one dampener on the day, it was the altercation that broke out among spectators at the completion of the under-16 final. Group 2 officials say an investigation into the circumstances of the melee will take a high priority.