Nick McGrady cuts through the Chifley College defence in the Buckley Shield semi-final.
Nick McGrady cuts through the Chifley College defence in the Buckley Shield semi-final. Adam Hourigan

Shield glory bid for South Grafton

THE South Grafton High under-14 rugby league side will line up against Brisbane Water secondary college in the grand final of the state-wide Buckley Shield in Sydney today.

The team will run onto Shark Park, Cronulla at 9.15am for its historic bid to become the first local school to win the prestigious state championship.

Coach Matt McKee had the boys out of bed in the early hours of yesterday morning in a bid to get the team settled in Sydney before the big match today.

"We got on the bus at 2.30 (yesterday) morning, and the boys are really pumped up for the match," McKee said.

"One of the boys started singing as we got on, and the chatter hasn't stopped since we pulled out of Grafton.

"It's a real buzz on board both buses at the moment, we have 87 people travelling and had to get an extra bus to fit everyone."

South Grafton High won its way through to the grand final with a home-ground victory over Western Sydney's Chifley College last week.

A dominant performance by talented five-eighth Ethan Roberts helped lift the team to a 20-14 victory against their bigger opponents.

If the boys thought beating the Chifley College side was a tough ask, the Central Coast-based Brisbane Water team pose an even bigger threat according to McKee.

"They beat Farrer Agricultural High 26-24 in the final minute to progress to the final, and obviously also have an extremely strong side," McKee said.

"But I'm heading to Sydney confident that our boys will give another good showing.

"They have made it this far and there's no reason they won't be extremely competitive in the final if they play the way they have all through the knockout."

McKee gave the boys a training hit-out at Moore Park in Sydney as soon as the side stepped off the bus, in a bid to keep his young side relaxed and ready for action today.

"We wanted to travel down early so that the boys weren't rushed onto the field and straight into the biggest game of their footballing lives thus far," McKee said.

"Hopefully with the training run this arvo the nervous energy will be gone, and with a good night's rest under the belt they will be primed to play a beauty."

McKee is also happy to report a full strength line-up for the grand final, with the injuries they carried into last week's semi-final behind them.

"Travis Woodhouse and James Hughes are both fully fit and ready for the final, and the majority of the team didn't play local league on Saturday after winning their major semi the previous week," he said.

"Fingers crossed the boys produce their best, because I think we're in this up to our eyeballs."


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