The local derby between Tanilba Bay and Raymond Terrace public schools in the girls under 12s rugby league final lived up to all expectations, with the Terrace girls walking away winners 32-26 with a late try.
The Rebecca Young Cup final between the two Port Stephens schools was played last Tuesday at McDonald Jones Stadium after both teams had gone through a gala day undefeated.
Tanilba Bay's coach Marc Gattenhof said that it was a wonderful experience for all players who were provided the rare opportunity to warm up in the Newcastle Knights dressing sheds.
"The game was a nail biter with both teams leading at some stage during the match, before a late try to Raymond Terrace sealed the six-point victory," he said.
"I was very proud of the efforts of both sides and it was great to see the tremendous display of sportsmanship from all players.
"The standard of girls rugby league is getting better every year. I have coached the girls side for seven years now and every year the skill level increases."
Chad Manning, from Raymond Terrace, said that he was also impressed with the high level of skill and competition among the girls. "The game could have been won by either side, it was that close."
Raymond Terrace will advance to the state championships to be played in Sydney next term.
Mr Gattenhof thanked Luke Lawrence, the NRL's game development officer (Central Hunter NSW), for all the hard work in organising the primary schools events. "The NRL is really investing into junior development in such a professional way and the game has a great future if this continues."
Mr Lawrence said that the boost in numbers had allowed organisers to offer an A and B grade division for the under 10s and open primary competitions.
"The A division has been allocated for schools with 201 or more students (boys and girls) in years 3-6, and B division for schools with 200 or less students," he said.
"There were 31 teams entered from the Hunter in the under 10 A division, including Port Stephens schools Raymond Terrace Public, St Brigid's Raymond Terrace, Tanilba Bay Public and Wirreanda Public. Twelve teams entered from the Hunter in B division which included Anna Bay Public School."
Schools from Port Stephens to contest the open primary A division included Tanilba Bay and Shoal Bay, while Anna Bay Public made it through to the grand final of the open primary B division, losing to Dudley Public 30-14.
Hunter River High School also made the grand final of the open secondary girls (under 18s) competition, going down 28-26.