Capricornia celebrates a first at schoolboys champs
RUGBY UNION: The Capricornia under-15s were edged by just one point in their first grand final appearance at the Queensland schoolboys championships.
They were beaten 15-14 by South Coast in a gripping decider that capped a great performance in Toowoomba.
Capricornia showed that regional rugby is alive and well as they left some of their highly fancied city counterparts in their wake.
The majority of players were from Rockhampton but there were also reps from Biloela, the Central Highlands and Mackay.
Coach Todd Wells said the team improved as the carnival went on, and produced their best game in the final.
"The boys played to the best of their ability and the results looked after themselves.
"We knew we had a pretty good team. We captured some good culture and the boys all bought into that.
"It was a great team effort and everyone did their job.”
Capricornia started their campaign with a hard-fought 10-5 win over last year's runners-up Met East.
They then scored convincing wins over Sunshine Coast, Darling Downs and Wide Bay to finish top of their pool and set up a semi-final showdown with Met West.
Wells said Capricornia rode a wave of momentum into the final, where they pushed odds-on favourites South Coast to the last minute.
He said it was an enthralling game and Capricornia were always in the contest.
"We were down 15-7 at the break but we had a big breeze behind us in the second half and were confident we could chase them down,” he said.
"Unfortunately, we didn't take all our opportunities with ball in hand in the second half and were unable to convert field position into tries.”
Outside centre Carter Wight and No.8 Spencer Smallacombe scored tries, and Wight kicked two conversions.
Wells said Wight, Smallacombe, halfback Brodie Stallman and captain Jayden Green were among the team's best.
"We definitely had a lot of firepower in our backline and scored a lot of tries,” Wells said.
"Our forward pack worked tirelessly to ensure we got good field position and good ball.”
Rugby Skills Academy director Onehunga Mata'uiau said the result was significant for rugby in the region.
"We've proven that with the right development our teams can certainly be competitive,” he said.
"These boys played some tough games and absorbed a lot of pressure and they deserved to be in the final.
"The big thing is their self-belief.
"They've shown they can mix it with the best and they don't have to go to these carnivals fearing those strong southern regions.”