Brilliance shines through in Turkeys? victory
By STEVE SPINKS
"HOW good is he?" That was the question being asked by the large crowd at Stan Sercombe Oval, Murwillumbah, yesterday after fullback Shannon Walker scored three tries to inspire the Kyogle Under-18s to a stunning 22-10 grand final victory over Tweed Seagulls in the BCU Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League. Walker was simply brilliant. He scored three tries in the second half to set up the Kyogle win against their more fancied opponents. The young fullback's third try was his best. He fielded an attacking bomb, beat four defenders and raced 80 metres to score. Not only did he score tries, he saved them as well. In the first half, he outpaced the attack to retrieve a grubber kick only to turn and race the ball out of his own in-goal. A brilliant tackle in the second half saved a certain four points as he knocked the Tweed halfback, Nick Shepherdson, into touch. Trying to describe this youngster's ability is difficult. Even opposing coach Peter Crannage, who has coached the Tweed Seagulls' Queensland Cup side, rates Walker one of the best players for his age he has seen. Kyogle coach Wayne Lollback just shakes his head. "He (Walker) would have been the only kid who could've scored that last try," Lollback said. "He's a special player and they don't come along that often." But Kyogle was far from a one-man band. In fact, centre Will Mathews was named player of the match. Hit it up It was a fair decision, considering the amount of work he got through. The strapping centre hit the ball up at least once every set, and he beat the first man nearly every time. Mathews' defence was also first class. Both of these youngsters already have ties with the new Gold Coast NRL side. Another to shine was halfback Michael Walker. While his brother, Shannon, was scoring the tries, Michael was busily scheming and using his skilful kicking game to good effect. Prop Matt Gibson, lock Ryan Daley and second-rower Luke Whitehouse were others to stand out in a fantastic team effort. However, it was not all plain sailing for the Turkeys. Much was talked about before the game of the devastating loss of the factory of the small town's biggest employer, Norply, in a massive fire last week. At first it seemed to daunt the youngsters as the Seagulls took a handy 10-2 lead into half-time. However, the three-try blitz by Walker and a try to Mathews earned Kyogle the premiership. It was the Turkeys Under-18s' second premiership in two seasons and the second trophy for coach Wayne Lollback from two attempts. "I thought we were gone, but we hung in there," Lollback said. "This one means a lot. I think it's more special because of the enlarged comp this year." KYOGLE 22 (Shannon Walker 3, Will Mathews tries; Craig Simpson 2, Will Mathews goals) d TWEED SEAGULLS 10 (Dane Evans, Jack Whitely tries; Dane Evans goal).