Patties seal Grand Final in last minutes
Author : Jocelyn Airth – The Daily Telegraph
SUNIA Turuva lost almost everything when his family home in Glendenning burned to the ground just months ago.
On Wednesday, the electric centre scored a last minute try to hand Patrician Brothers Blacktown their eighth NRL Schoolboy NSW title.
After sixty minutes of physical and exciting footy, Patties defeated last year’s state champions Westfields Sports High 22-18 at Leichhardt Oval.
But, the Boys from Blacktown led by just two points in the dying minutes of the contest.
It was anyone’s game – until Turuva stepped up.
“I was just trying to find a gap, heading cross-field, it didn’t really open up so I decided to just take on the winger and that was it” Turuva said.
The man-of-the-match fooled defenders with his silky footwork and bounced out of a tackle to score in the right corner.
Lifting the NSW Cup was the perfect way to finish out what has been a challenging year for the Penrith Panthers junior.
“The first few weeks after the house burnt down weren’t good, not the best feeling, having to move in with my Grandma, we had to adapt,” Turuva said.
“But the boys all helped, sharing and donating stuff. Playing footy with them helped. With COVID, we didn’t know what was going to go on, we just kept on training and turning up for each other.”
Westfields made Patties work for every point but skipper Joseph O’Neill admitted his team should have capitalised better on opportunities.
“Unlucky in the end, we know we could have won it, but that’s just how the game goes sometimes,” O’Neill said.
“But we didn’t give up, that’s what this school’s about, working until the end. And it came down to the last minute.”
Patties skipper Jakob Arthur – son of Parramatta Eels coach Brad Arthur – and Australian Schoolboy Samuel Loizou reunited in the halves for the final.
The pair – who are preparing for their first NRL preseason at the Eels along with fullback Sean Russell – were ecstatic to win the NSW title in their final year of school.
“We used to play in the halves together in the under-12s together, for the Rouse Hill Rhinos it was good getting out there together again,” Loizou said.
“It’s unreal, massive, we’ve been wanting to win this since Year 7” Arthur said.
Both teams showed early nerves and it took Patties 17 minutes to open the scoring through winger Kristian-Li Mai.
Westfields hit back instantly as O’Neill fired play to his fullback Carson Kaho who dummied and scored.
But after a penalty goal and a bolting try from big Uinitoni Mataele, Patties led 12-4 at half time.
Westfields returned ready to rumble and 16-year-old wrecking ball Solomone Saukuru screamed through a hole to cross and start the comeback.
Arthur then put his fullback Russell over to extend their lead and clutch tackles by Loizou stopped young Saukuru doing further damage.
Westfields never gave up – Braydon Guyan was consistently menacing and Vlado Jankovic tested his opponents’ defence.
With seven minutes to go, Caleb Tohi popped a stunning offload for his five-eighth Joshua Park over and, with Kaho’s conversion, Westfields were trailing just 18-16.
Both sides fought hard, but in the end it was Turuva who rose to seal the deal for his school in the final two minutes.
Schoolboy Cup Grand Final
WESTFIELDS SHS 18
TRIES : Carson Kaho, Solomone Saukura, Josh Parke
GOALS : Carson Kaho
Patrician Brothers 22
TRIES : Kristian Li-Mai, Uiitoni Mataele, Sean Russell, Sunia Turuva
GOALS : Isaiya Katoa
P/GOALS : Isaiya Katoa 2
Referee : Robert Morley
Sideline Ref’s : Brendan Mani & Ethan Murray
Grand Final Action Photo Galleries
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