Highlanders reign supreme at Coalfield Sevens
RUGBY UNION: The Highlanders shrugged off some quality opposition and scorching temperatures to be crowned champions of the inaugural Coalfield Sevens at the weekend.
The talented CQ outfit fired as the mercury climbed to 41 degrees in Emerald, going through the day/night carnival undefeated.
The team won four of its five games to nil, stamping its authority with a 29-nil win over Mackay in the final.
The Highlanders' teen sensation and Australian schools rep Rhiannon Revell-Blair, formerly of Clermont, was named player of the tournament.
Coach Niccy Muller said it was a great team effort, with every player doing their job in the testing conditions.
"There were some good teams out there, and it was a good turnout for the first year,” she said.
"I think it was our experience that probably got us through at the end.
"You couldn't afford to switch off at any stage because in seven-minute halves anything can happen.
"It was really hot and our strategy was to reserve energy by shifting the ball a lot and that worked for us.”
The Highlanders opened their campaign with a big win over the highly fancied CQ Dingoes.
They then scored a hard-fought win over Brothers from Rockhampton in one of their toughest games of the carnival.
They continued their run with a 34-nil win over the Sunshine Coast, the same team they soundly beat in the semi to set up their final showdown with Mackay.
"The final was a good game but our girls ended up winning it pretty convincingly after they got a bit of a roll-on,” Muller said.
"It was a great carnival. It is great for CQ to have an event like this and hopefully the organisers can keep building on it to make it bigger and better next year.”
Muller said Revell-Blair was outstanding, which augured well for the 16-year-old who was vying for selection in the Australian team for this year's Oceania Youth Games.
Forward Layla Fauid from Moranbah put in a strong defensive effort, and Blackwater sisters Leepa and Amber Row Row impressed in their tournament debut.
The Highlanders have a talented squad of players who compete in both union and league.
Muller said their next assignment would be the Warba Wangarunya Rugby League Carnival in Rockhampton in a fortnight where they would be out to defend their 2017 title.