Champions crowned in Oztag national finals
TOUCH FOOTBALL: Hundreds of Oztag players descended on Coffs Harbour for the Australian Championships at the weekend.
Local associations throughout New South Wales, ACT and Queensland merged to form 13 regions for the tournament, which enabled the best Oztag players to compete against each other in a high-quality competition.
Divisions for the tournament ranged from under-20s to 55 and over, with the grand finals held on Sunday in perfect conditions.
In the Men's Open, the Sydney Warriors ended a seven-year national title drought after proving far too good for Wolves in the final.
Star player Brendan Chow said it was great to finally get the monkey off the side's back.
"It feels unreal to finally win it,” Chow said.
"We've fallen short time and time again at nationals, but something felt different this weekend and in the end it was.”
Chow said that difference was the Warriors' attitude of not overlooking any of the teams.
"The last few years I think we were probably a little too confident heading into the finals,” he said.
"We would go through the pool stages undefeated and just think we'd continue that in the knockout games.
"Complacency has cost us over the years, but this year we showed respect to every single team we faced all weekend and just took it one game at a time.”
Chow said his side's defence in their tight semi-final against the Central Coast was the best he'd seen from a Warriors side, and he believes it can get even better.
"We just worked really hard in defence and our attack sort of took care of itself.
"All we do in training is defend, defend, defend and that's what ended up being the difference this weekend.”
Tournament director Bill Harrigan said the 2018 instalment of the Australian Championships was smooth sailing from an organisation perspective.
"It worked really well this year. We had 40 less teams than last year, which I put down to the World Cup being just four weeks earlier ... A lot of the players were involved in that so it is a big commitment financially and training wise,” he said.
"So it was a lot more relaxed and cruisy. Finishing at 5pm on Saturday was sensational.”
Harrigan also noted Oztag is in a strong position at the moment, with junior participation numbers rising.
Grand final results
Women's 20s: Central Coast 4-3 Sunshine Coast Sonics
Women's Open: East Coast Dolphins 4-3 Central Coast
Women's Senior: Sydney Warriors 5-0 ACT
Women's Masters: Central Coast 6-3 Vipers
Men's Open: Sydney Warriors 9-2 Wolves
Men's 20s: Tigers 6-2 Vipers
Men's 30s: Sydney Warriors 3-1 Tigers
Men's 35s: Central Coast 5-1 Vipers
Men's 40s: Tigers 5-1 Sydney Warriors
Men's 45s: Central Coast 7-1 East Coast Dolphins
Men's 50s: East Coast Dolphins 3-1 Central Coast
Men's 55s: Sydney Magic 2-1 Central Coast
Mixed 20s: East Coast Dolphins 12-9 ACT
Mixed Open: Tigers 6-5 Vipers
Mixed Senior: Wolves 5-4 Sydney Warriors