The New South Welshmen had their way against their Queensland counterparts at Pittwater Rugby Park on Sunday, taking out the under 16 and under 19 National Championship.

It was an entertaining showdown between the rivals, which started with a 40-10 thumping in the under 16s. Classy Waratahs fullback Mitch Woods, No.8 Oliver Aboud and lock Zion Poitaha stamped their mark on the match.

It was flyhalf Jack Bowen who stole the show in the under 19s clash, a gruelling affair as close as we anticipated. The home side stormed ahead in the final quarter when playing 15-on-14.

See below for match reports

Queensland Reds v New South Wales Waratahs Under 19s wrap

The New South Wales Waratahs have willed their way to a 44-31 victory over the Queensland Reds in the Under 19 Grand Final after being down to 13 men early.

The Reds scored twice when playing 15-on-13 but not only did the boys in blue come back but they gave their rivals a taste of their own medicine when scoring 15 points late while Taj Annan was off the field with a yellow card.

Annan stood up immensely in the early stages but not in the way you’d think. The No.12 made a crucial jackal at the breakdown, ripping it off big Clem Halaholo. But, only moments later hooker Albert Alcock scored off a sneaky lineout play where he caught the Reds napping and did a cheeky one-two with his No.8 Sam Allsopp.

The Reds then went bang-bang with two tries in two minutes, taking no time to make the ‘Tahs pay for their ill discipline which saw two players given yellow cards.

An amazing pass to his left from scrumhalf Willem Johnstone landed straight in the breadbasket of fullback Matt Brice who dove in under the sticks.

Brice then made a leaping catch off the kickoff, broke away, kicked ahead and was tackled out of contention by his opposite number Jack Mathews who was then given 10 in the bin. Harry Mclaughlin-Phillips had no trouble capitalising on the overlap, finding winger Jackson Connelly unmarked on the edge to score.

Then, flyhalf Jack Bowen drew the home side within six with a timely penalty goal. But wait there’s more. Bowen burst through the line and found speedster Aaron Dimovitch on his hip. The flyhalf added the extras, taking the lead at 15-14.

Things got uglier for the Queenslanders when prop Jamie Clark stretched his side’s lead out to 22-14 in the 35th minute. A strong run and a smart switch pass from scrumhalf Tom Goddard did the job.

The home side started perfectly after the break, winger Tom Morrison scoring in a hurry to make it 29-14.

But, frontrower Angus Ward threw on his cape and scored a pick-and-drive try to draw closer at 29-21. It was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Then, Annan delivered a spot on cut-out pass to his Easts Tiger teammate Jarrod Homan scorching down the right touchline. No.8 John Bryant had his prints on this with a hot potato like pass to shift the ball through the backline. Ice cold Annan slotted the sideline conversion to edge ever so close at 29-28 with 24 to play. Annan regained the lead for the Reds at 31-29 with a penalty goal.

Alas, Annan was given a yellow card for infringing at the breakdown and as all good teams do they make you pay. A telling blow from centre Jackson Ropata marched the blue boys ahead 36-31 with 12 minutes on the clock.

The decision by Bowen to take a quick lineout caught the Reds napping and from there it was flanker Hayden Maher who strolled over. It was a heads up play from the young flyhalf who sharpened his skills in the Shute Shield this year with Easts.

He inflicted the final blow with a 38m penalty goal, sending his side up 44-31 with only three minutes left.

Queensland Reds v New South Wales Waratahs Under 16s Wrap

The Waratahs are now Under 16 National Champions and jeez they did it in style, finishing the tournament with a stunning 40-10 win over the Reds at Pittwater Rugby Park.

It was a clean sweep for the New South Welshman in their 2022 campaign and in their final game in front of their home fans, they couldn’t have put on a better display. Their defence was strong but it was their dazzling attack threats who orchestrated six tries to the Reds’ one.

Waverley College lock Zion Poitaha won the Man of the Match and boy did he deserve it. He was aggressive, busy and everywhere at once.

Reds coach Simon Craig said the boys tried to play outside of the systems when under pressure, but was “immensely proud of the way they played and the effort they put in.”

It’s worth noting a considerable chunk of the ‘Tahs team played First XV in New South Wales whereas a lot of the Reds youngsters shone bright in the 16As competition.

The rivalry was as big as it could get between the Under 16s. It was evident when Reds captain Tom Robinson saw yellow, and the boys in blue couldn’t wipe the smile off their faces as they clapped him off.

Reserve halfback Tom Goldie came on and felt right at home, the Southport School product up to his pesky tricks to get under the skin of his rivals.

The Waratahs capitalised on territory in the first half, scoring three consecutive tries to stretch their lead out to 21-3.

It was the three boys who dealt the most damage when the two teams met in round 1. First it was tall timber Zion Poitaha, who has a deadly step for a lock. Then it was electric fullback Mitchell Woods before No.8 Oliver Aboud barged his way over with a raid from the scrum.

The Reds only points came from flyhalf Chace Oates, who opted for the three when given the opportunity.

Things couldn’t get any worse for the visitors when the ‘Tahs drove their rolling maul over 25 metres before Aboud dove over with a pick-and-go. Flyhalf Charlie Poynton had his radar on as well to make matters worse, kicking his team to a commanding 28-3 lead at the half.

Woods sliced through the line again, this time finding his captain Marshall Le Maitre in support for the try. Then, hardworking lock Toby Brial brought up his fourth of the tournament with the strongest of carries.

Indeed the ‘Tahs counter attacking, offloads, and the fact every player always had support inside and out, ballooned their lead to 40-3 in the 49th minute.

Tom Robinson was brave for the visitors, palming off defenders and running hard and fast into contact. He withstood some bone-rattling contact and opted to stay on the field to give it his all one last time. Eventually he was taken off but high praise to the gutsy lock.

It was a similar story for bench brute Princeton Ioane who went off with a blood nose such was his ‘body on the line’ type defence, standing tall on both sides of the ball. You could not fault the effort from the Queenslanders.

Hooker Ewald Kruger kept the energy up until the final whistle, a breakdown win late showing that despite what the scoreboard read, they were going to stay in the fight. And, he was rewarded for his scrummaging and lineout precision with a rolling maul try in the 66th minute. Kruger, pinching one late to settle it at 40-10.

Tournament award winners according to coach Simon Craig

Most explosive award winner

Frontrower Princeton Ioane: Feet speed, power and his weight all together make him very explosive. He has an opportunity, he could go far in this game. He has plenty of raw talent and the lines he runs are amazing. Just explosive.”

Most mobile big men

Lock Tom Robinson: “Tom played very well today and throughout the tournament. He is very intelligent and a great leader. He just knows where to be, he knows where to put himself.

“The most consistent was flanker Joe Stoddart. Not everyone notices but as a coach I see it. He does all the hard work and he pops up everywhere. He has a big motor and works tirelessly.”

Raw talent award

Can play any backline position Chace Oates: “Very skillful. You watch him and he always has time. He reads the game very well and is just ahead of it.”

Hard yakka award winner

Hooker Ewald Kruger: “Every week he worked his backside off at training and it showed in the way he played. He got the players player award.”

Originally published as ‘Tahs topple Reds in National Championship Grand Final showdown

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