Emu Park U12s celebrate maiden Cup win
RUGBY LEAGUE: Emu Park coach Dave Armstrong says his players are "still over the moon” after winning the Jason Hetherington Cup for the first time.
They blitzed their rivals at the three-day carnival in Gladstone, which attracted 37 under-12 teams from across the state.
The Emus won seven of their eight group games and drew one to finish on top of their pool.
They then beat the Moranbah Miners 16-4 in the quarter-final and downed the unbeaten Brisbane Brothers with the same scoreline to set up a grand final showdown against the Kawana Dolphins.
The Emus scored a convincing 20-4 win in the decider, with captain Carter Welfare bagging a double and centre Tyson Hinds and fullback Jack Hardy scoring a try apiece.
Hardy was named player of the final.
Armstrong said he could not be prouder of his young charges.
"They all played really well. It was a great team performance - everyone did their job,” he said.
"I think in the back of their minds the boys thought they could win it, but some of the teams we came up against were really big.
"We realised we couldn't run over them so we had to outsmart them. In the end, guts and determination got them through.”
Armstrong has coached a core group of the team since their start in the under-6s.
"For a lot of them this was the first carnival they'd played at and for a few of them this is their first year of rugby league, so it's a credit to them,” he said.
"This is the first time Emu Park has won the cup and the boys were rapt. They're still over the moon.
"This is a real highlight for me. It's the best feeling ever. A lot of the parents were in tears after the grand final.
"It was an emotional win for everybody.”
Armstrong said the fact the Yeppoon Seagulls, Rocky Tigers and Cap Coast Brothers also made the quarter-finals showed the depth of talent in the region.
Emu Park will now look to bring their winning form back to the local competition.
"This will give us a big kick along,” Armstrong said.
"We're sitting second on the ladder and the boys really want to get to the grand final.
"We have six more rounds in the competition and we're hoping to be on top of the ladder by the time finals come around.”