HISTORY BOYS: McAuley Catholic College, senior boys winners of the Daily Examiner Shield touch football gala day at the Yamba Sports Complex on Monday night.
HISTORY BOYS: McAuley Catholic College, senior boys winners of the Daily Examiner Shield touch football gala day at the Yamba Sports Complex on Monday night. Mitchell Keenan

Grafton schools break Maclean high DEX touch dominance

DEX SHIELD TOUCH: Maclean High School ducked and weaved their way to finals across all four grades at the Daily Examiner Shield touch football gala day but their dominance was broken by some their up-River rivals.

The Bats came in ready to defend the Shield and they didn't disappoint, with first up wins across the board giving them a strong start to the gala day.

Teams from Maclean, Grafton High, South Grafton High, McAuley Catholic College, Clarence Valley Anglican School, Pacific Valley Christian School and St Andrews College cam together at Yamba Sports Complex last night in a historic edition of the tournament.

"This is actually the first year that every school has been represented which is a huge achievement,” Kylie Lowe, event organiser and Maclean senior girls coach said.

Going through the round robin format with relative ease, Maclean were first to qualify for all four finals with the juniors set to take the field for the first set of deciders.

GRAFTON GIRLS GO THE DISTANCE

CHAMPIONS: Grafton High School, junior girls winners of the Daily Examiner Shield touch football gala day at the Yamba Sports Complex on Monday night.
CHAMPIONS: Grafton High School, junior girls winners of the Daily Examiner Shield touch football gala day at the Yamba Sports Complex on Monday night. Mitchell Keenan

In the junior girls it was Grafton tasked with the challenge against Maclean and the clash that followed was a nail-biter won right at the death by the girls in blue to finish 2-1.

Maclean looked dangerous from the get go with Kalani Henwood looking to engineer a chance through the middle and finding a team mate to put the Bats ahead.

It didn't take long for Grafton to equalise and as the siren sounded the game was headed to a drop off where each side plays two minutes before losing a player and continuing until a try is scored.

Maclean thought they had done enough when Henwood slipped through to score but the initial pass was ruled offside.

Down to three a side, Grafton's star Martina Williams made a cleaver dummy and slipped through the gap to claim the winner and take out best and fairest honours.

YOUNG BATS DO IT AGAIN

BEST BATS: Maclean High School, junior boys winners of the Daily Examiner Shield touch football gala day at the Yamba Sports Complex on Monday night.
BEST BATS: Maclean High School, junior boys winners of the Daily Examiner Shield touch football gala day at the Yamba Sports Complex on Monday night. Mitchell Keenan

On the opposite field, Maclean took on McAuley for the junior boys title and the Bats never looked in doubt, running in two tries from Malik Elabbasi and Ben Morris who was awarded best and fairest for the grade.

The 2-0 win adds to the young group of Maclean stars that have gone to the NSW state finals as well as claiming DEX Shield rugby league honours.

MACLEAN GIRLS TOO STRONG

TOP GIRLS: Maclean High School, senior girls winners of the Daily Examiner Shield touch football gala day at the Yamba Sports Complex on Monday night.
TOP GIRLS: Maclean High School, senior girls winners of the Daily Examiner Shield touch football gala day at the Yamba Sports Complex on Monday night. Mitchell Keenan

After a slow start to the competition, Grafton made good and found their form with some key wins through the round robin to book a face off with Maclean.

Grafton were moved the ball well early on and looked likely to test the Bats resolve but Maclean had all the answers and found their first try through Jorja Mainey.

Some excellent play lead to a second for the Bats with Halle Roberts finishing off their opponents with the dagger.

Senior girls best and fairest honours went to Maclean's Zhanae Whalley after a superb day out on the park.

MCAULEY PRY SHIELD FROM RELENTLESS BATS

As Maclean were wrapping up a third straight senior girls DEX Shield, McAuley College were making history with an incredible performance to end Maclean's seven year reign at the top of the senior boys touch competition.

The up-River side started quickly and before too long, Charlie Kelly made his way through a gap to open the scoring in the decider.

Maclean looked for an answer but the pressure was on on the defending champions were rushed on the final pass.

The Bats' went further behind after Jye Bochme produced a spectacular intercept to run the length of the field and score.

Maclean managed to get one back through some quick thinking from Craig Merry Bushell but it was too little, too late as McAuley wrapped up the historic win.

Lowe was pleased to see such a heavy involvement at this year's tournament with the sport seeing a revival.

"Maclean teacher Craig Nipperess, has actually started a touch comp up again in Grafton which hasn't been on for a few years so it's good to see the development in the kids up-River,” she said.

"It's great to see for the development of it all. Obviously with Maclean in all four finals it shows that there is definitely still a dominance there and the touch competition here in Yamba is a big part of that. Looking at the McAuley side there were a few of the boys who play in the touch competition in Yamba as well.”

Lowe said that the girls have really improved and that they are producing a much more technical game than she has seen before.

"It's lovely to see the girls take up the sport and see how much more skill they have these days rather than just relying on pace. There were some really good close touches in all the games across the board. I don't think there was a game won by more than five tries which is great for the sport,” she said.

"It's fast and furious, as you see it doesn't stop but it's really good for the kids and it's great for them to play against schools in the Valley.”



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