Home win special for Cougars

IN FRONT of their proud home fans, Casino Cougars celebrated a memorable Group One Junior Rugby Carnival win on Saturday at Queen Elizabeth Park.

In the Under-12 final, the Cougars had to fight hard to overcome competition newcomers Upper Clarence Eels.

But it was also a huge effort from the Eels to win their pool and stretch the strong Cougars side in their first year in the Group One junior competition.

The popular carnival saw clubs from Lennox Head to Grafton and out to Tabulam gather to play each other in a full day of short round robin matches in all grades from Under-7s through to Under-12s.

And the kids could not help but try to emulate their State of Origin heroes according to Group One junior president Rick Lennon.

“Being in the middle of this year's State of Origin series, the carnival gave the players a chance to all get together in one place and share their passion for rugby league,” he said.

More than 1000 players participated in the day.

“Because there are no competition points at stake, teams tended to try out new moves, new combinations and plays they see their State of Origin heroes put on. That led to some entertaining matches.”

While Under-7 to Under-9 mini-league sides had the opportunity to play clubs outside their local cluster, mod-league sides in the Under 10s, 11s and 12s played in two pools with the winners of each pool meeting in carnival finals.

The Under-11 final was won by Ballina Seagulls over a committed Marist Brothers Rams squad.

In the Under-10s, Lower Clarence Magpies were up against Lennox Head Dolphins and both sides traded tries to see scores level in the final seconds of the game.

As the final siren sounded, the Dolphins scored to take out the best match of the day.

“The carnival's success is a credit to the commitment of all our junior rugby league players, parents and volunteers,” Lennon said.

“It's this commitment that could see some of these kids become Origin stars one day.”

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