June 16, 2023


Saturday 10th / Sunday 11th JUNE, 2023

Central Coast had a very successful weekend in Tamworth at the NSW Country Championships. The Senior XV, Colts and Women’s XV teams all put in good performances over the two days of the Championships. It was a gruelling weekend of rugby for all 3 teams. The 3 teams played a total of 10 matches over the 2 days – an extremely difficult task.
The Colts was the most successful team, winning the prestigious Rowland Cup. This was the first win for the Coast in this competition since 2014 and brought on huge celebrations at the conclusion of the round robin series. The Colts played a round robin format and had 3 wins and a draw over the 2 days, to finish undefeated and to become NSW Country Champions. The Senior XV had a very successful Championships winning 2 matches and then losing the Final to Central West. They played two very tough game of rugby on the Saturday and this did affect them in the Final the following day. They finished Runners-up and remain in the Caldwell Cup Championship next year. The Women’s XV won 2 matches and lost one in what was a most pleasing effort, and they finished 3rd at the Championships in the Thomson Cup.


                   Saturday, 10th June, 2023       11 am
                   Scully Park

Central Coast went into this match with some nervous expectations. They were wishing to start the Championship well to establish a good basis for the whole weekend. Being the reigning Caldwell Cup Champions, they were keen to repeat that success again this year. The team certainly did get away to a great start and quickly took control of the first half. It was not long before Central Coast had crossed for their first try to prop Jake McPhie at the 5-minute mark. However, Illawarra were to quickly hit back and for quite a period placed the Coast under much pressure. They were rewarded with a try to make the score 7 all after 20 minutes. Central Coast were able to score right on halftime when halfback Isaiah Inomata took a quick penalty tap and raced over for a match turning try. Central Coast went to the halftime break leading by 14 points to 7. They continued to control proceedings early in the second half and a third try saw them go to 21 points to 7 leads. They were able to post 19 points in the second half, before Illawarra was able to respond with a try close to fulltime. It was a great start to the Championships and set the basis for the semifinal match later in the afternoon.

Central Coast            33                    Jake McPhie, Isaiah Niumata,
Antonio Cunha, Lachlan Peruch,
Veipueki Siale tries;
Adam Danckert 4 conversions
Illawarra                    12                    2 tries, 1 conversion

                   Saturday, 10th June, 2023                 3.40 pm
                   Pirates Rugby Club

This was a typical top tier semifinal with both sides prepared to throw the ball around. This was despite the fact that Central Coast realised a win would see them into the Caldwell Cup Final the next day so there was so much to play for. It was another pleasing start for the Central Coast team. The Coast were controlling most phases of play and were rewarded with a try after 10 minutes. The game did develop into an arm wrestle after that with both teams giving it their all. Central North were a very solid team with a large and strong forward pack. The Coast were making every post a winner and a vital penalty goal to five-eight Adam Danckert on half time saw the Central Coast go to the halftime break leading by 10 points to nil. Central North placed the Coast under considerable pressure early in the second half. However great defence by Central Coast kept them scoreless. However, it was at this stage that Central Coast played some of their best rugby of the day. They gained back the control and were able to post a further converted try to take a comfortable lead of 15 points to nil early in the second half. Central Coast kicked a penalty goal late in the match and this had secured them a 18 points to nil victory. The team had reached the Caldwell Cup Final to be played the following day.

Central Coast             18                    Mitchell Briggs, Jayden Woolley tries;
Adam Danckert 1 conversion, 2 penalty goals
Central North              0                   

                   Sunday, 11th June, 2023          2.45 pm
Scully Park

In the final match of the Championships, the Caldwell Cup Final, Central Coast were up against the Central West, who had been the dominant team in this competition for several years. Central Coast were attempting to repeat their 2022 success by winning the Caldwell Cup for another year.  Central West had also won their two matches on the Saturday comfortably and would have been confident going into this Final. But so was the Central Coast team who had prepared well and were ready to go in this Final. Central West started the stronger in the match and were first to score points with a try to lead 7 points to nil after just 7 minutes. It was not the start the Central Coast team wanted. It was an even battle early on but long range missed penalties did not help the cause. It was Central West who took control from midway in the first half and they were able to go the halftime break with a very handy 26 points to nil lead. Central Coast had limited answers to the Central West attack. The second half saw the Coast have a great start when winger Blake Irwin crossed for the team’s first try and suddenly hopes were lifted. The score was 26 to 5 but these hopes did not last very long. Central West went on to score a further 26 points in the second half to secure a convincing 52 points to 5 victory. The very tough and physical games on Saturday did leave their effect on the Central Coast team but it simply was not to be in the Final this year.

Central Coast              5                    Blake Irwin try
defeated by
Central West             52                    7 tries, Penalty Try, 5 conversions



                   Saturday, 10th June, 2023        1.15 pm
Pirates Rugby Club

This was a tough physical encounter right from the opening whistle. The Colts format was a round robin Championships where all 3 teams played each other twice over the 2 days. Central Coast got away to a brilliant start. They had crossed for two tries very early in the match. This 10-nil lead was just what was ordered. However, the match than evened up and became a real arm wrestle. Both teams had chances to score but it was just before halftime that Central Coast were able to cross for their third to go to the halftime break with a handy 15 points to nil lead. Central Coast were able to control proceedings in the second half, and despite no points being scored in the second half by either team, it was the Central Coast who always seemed to be in control. The second half was an even struggle but it was the excellent performance by Central Coast in the first half that had secured the victory. Best players for Central Coast were winger Jack O’Connor, Damian Lawson and flanker Lachlan Soolialo.

Central Coast             15                    Damien Lawson, Talon Woodward,
Jack O’Connor tries
Newcastle/Hunter        0

                   Saturday, 10th June, 2023        3.00 pm
Scully Park

Central Coast backed up their very good start to the Championships with a hard-fought win over Central West. However, they did not have it all their own way for much of the early part of the match. Central Coast scored first with a penalty goal at the 15th minute mark of the first half to lead 3 nil. The remainder of the first half, and the entire match, was so even. Both teams had their chances and both teams took turns to attack with no result for all their efforts. The halftime score remained 3 nil so this fact alone shows the tightness and the intensity of the contest.  The second half continued in much the same vein and the match was only secured right on fulltime when winger Hayden Nykolyn crossed in the corner for the winning try. It was a great effort by the Central Coast team. The final score of 8 points to nil was a richly deserved win for the team, and held them in good stead for the return matches the following day.

Central Coast               8                    Hayden Nykolyn try;
                                                            Talon Woodward 1 penalty goal    
Central West               0                   

                   Sunday, 11th June, 2023          10.40 am
Pirates Rugby Club

Central Coast went into this match full of confidence. The team had played extremely well the previous day and there were high hopes this form would continue on into the second day. Central Coast went into this match knowing it was a virtual Final of the Colts Championship. Central Coast had secured two wins on Day 1, and they knew a win in this match would secure the Championship. There was not too much between these two teams in this match. Central Coast dominated the early stages of the match for long periods. They crossed for an early try in the 4th minute and then followed it up with a second in the 14th minute. It was the start they needed.  Both tries were converted, so this 14 nil lead was just what was ordered. Newcastle replied with their own try in the first half so the halftime score was Central Coast 14 Newcastle/Hunter 5. Newcastle started the second half really well and put the Coast under huge pressure. However, a great run saw centre Ashton Hutchinson-Walters crash over for a strong try to make the score 19-5, and this remained the score to fulltime. Best players were flanker Lachlan Soolialo, halfback Kai Wheelock and fullback Talon Woodward. Central Coast, with that victory, knew they had secured the Championships but they still had to play a final match before it could all be guaranteed.

Central Coast                         19        Talon Woodward, Hayden Nykolyn,
Ashton Hutchinson-Walters tries;
Talon Woodward 2 conversions                   
Newcastle/Hunter                   5         1 try
                   Sunday, 11th June, 2023          12.35 pm
                   Pirates Rugby Club

Central Coast went into this match knowing that they had won the Rowlands Colts Championship. It was hard to lift for the match but they did. However, it was Central West who opened the scoring with a try midway through the first half. The Coast were playing fierce rivals, Central West, so a win was being keenly sought. Central Coast responded with their own try to square up the match at 5 points apiece. This remained the halftime score. The match was very much up for grabs at that stage. The second half saw both teams basically cancel each other out. There were some periods of great attack by both teams but points were not secured because of some outstanding defence from both teams. Central Coast were finishing the stronger. They missed a try scoring chance as well as penalty kick on fulltime. Despite this, the second stanza saw no points scored so the match finished in a 5 all draw. Even though it was a draw, Central Coast had gone though undefeated and there were huge celebrations at the fulltime whistle as the Central Coast had secured the prestigious Rowlands Cup for the first time in 9 years. It was a wonderful effort by Coach Nick Meyer and his team.

Central Coast                           5        Kai Wheelock try                 
drew with
Central West                           5        1 try               


                   Saturday, 10th June, 2023         10.00 am
                   Scully Park

Central Coast did not start this match as they wanted. Central West were quickly on the attack and were controlling most areas of the play. They dominated the match early and were rewarded with a try after only 2 minutes. Central West scored again in the 12th minute to race to a handy 12 points to nil lead. It is then that the Central Coast started to hit their straps and were able to secure enough ball to attempt to get back into the match. Central Coast deserved to post points during this period but it was not to be. Central West crossed for a further try late in the half to make the Central Coast’s task even more difficult. Central West went to the halftime break leading by 17 points to nil. To Central Coast’s great credit, they played some exceptional rugby in the second half. The players were suddenly getting into the pattern of 15-a-side rugby and they gradually clawed their way back into the match. Central Coast scored a good try to centre Shenay Ball early in the second half to make the score 17-5.  This was soon followed up not long after by their second try and suddenly, with the score, Central West 17 Central Coast 12, the match was very much on an even keel. The scoreline of 17-12 remained the final score but the second half showed how good the Coast team were. Despite the close loss, it was a great effort by the Central Coast team. It was the first half that put them on the back foot.
Central Coast             12                    Shenay Ball, Shanaye Rutonski tries;
Sharni Mason 1 conversion             
lost to
Central West             17                    3 tries, 1 conversion

                   Saturday, 10th June, 2023          1.00 pm
Scully Park

Central Coast were fully prepared for this clash. The first half was a very even affair with both teams having their chances to post points. However, it was the Mid North Coast team who did control much of the territory and possession during the early period. Mid North Coast scored a converted try first to lead by 7 points to nil. However Central Coast were very quick to respond. They scored a try in the 7th minute, and then another soon after in the 12th minute. This double try scoring effort saw the Central Coast jump to a 12 points to 7 lead. This was the halftime score. The second half was an intense battle from start to finish. It was close and both teams tried everything to get the victory. However, it was the Central Coast who kicked a vital penalty goal in the 21st minute to secure the win by 15 points 7. Central Coast played well and the win saw Central Coast go into the 3rd/4th playoff the following day.

Central Coast             15                    Sharni Mason, Sharni Waters tries;
                                                            Sharni Mason 1 conversion, 1 penalty goal
Mid North Coast         7                    1 try, 1 conversion

Game 3       3rd / 4th PLAYOFF :
                   Sunday, 11th June, 2023            8.50 am
                   Scully Park

Central Coast had to play the home team Central North in the 3rd/4th place Playoff. Central Coast were up early and ready to go for the early kick-off. It was cold but the team ignored this and got right into the action. Central Coast took control in the early stages of the match. They got a great start. They crossed for a try in the 20th minute to lead by 5 points to nil, but it was the Central North who then hit back and played some very good rugby. The match developed into a real arm wrestle. It was a tough battle in the forwards and the Central North team were playing some committed, strong rugby. Central North scored a try late in the half to square the match at 5 points apiece. It was certainly developing into a hard fought contest for victory. The referee was so keen on penalties at the breakdown that the team found it so hard to gain any fluency. Despite some strange decisions by the referee, the Central Coast got on with the job and played some of their best rugby of the weekend. Central Coast kicked a great penalty goal near fulltime to secure the 8 points to 5 victory and to finish 3rd at the Championships. It was hard fought clash where no quarter was asked for or given.   It was great to way to finish the Championships and to get the win for the team was a richly deserved result for a team that had played so well during the Championships.
Central Coast               8                    Emily Lufe try;
                                                            Sharni Mason 1 penalty goal                      
Central North              5                    1 try

It was a pleasing weekend for Central Coast Rugby Union overall. Many thanks to Craig, Nick and Anthony, and their respective coaching staff, on completing such a great job. It was a tough weekend of rugby for all 3 teams. The 3 teams were involved in 10 matches of rugby over the 2 days, and in what was Championship standard rugby. The highlight obviously was the winning of the prestigious Rowlands Cup, the pinnacle of NSW Country Colts rugby. The final situation sees the 1st XV finish 2nd, the Colts 1st, and the Women 3rd, in what was one of the Central Coast’s best ever NSW Country Championships.