The Cape York Crusaders claim their sixth consecutive U16 North Queensland Country Championship in Airlie Beach last weekend (Friday, 24th March & Saturday, 25th March 2017). The Crusaders played against other North Queensland Country regions in Cairns, Townville, Mackay and Capricornia in the annual Championships. Crusaders Winners Photo attached.
Not only are the North Queensland Country Championships bragging rights for a region, but it is a clear talent identification pathway for Players. It was only in 2015, where Jack Bowes took to the field for the Cairns regional team to start his impressive journey to an AFL career with the Gold Coast SUNS. The U16 NQ Championship’s allow Players to gain selection in both the U16 North Queensland team and the U17 Queensland State team which compete in their respective carnivals later in the year.
The U16 NQ Championships allows each region to select 23 players. Of the 23 players, sixteen (16) players are U16’s years of age (in 2017), with the ability to utilise seven (7) over age players. These over age players are turning 17 in 2017. These overage players are identified for AFL Queensland’s newly adopted U17 State Program.
The successful Crusaders team was made up from players representing various communities throughout Cape York and the Torres Strait combining forces to go undefeated.
The Championships format saw each region play one another in 2 x 15 minute halves across two days (see all results for Crusaders below).
The Crusaders began their campaign in a Friday twilight fixture with a 24 point win over the ‘home’ region, Mackay. The Crusaders were always in control, having 13 scoring shots to four. In their second game of the Carnival, first thing Saturday morning, the Crusaders secured a 26 to 14 point win over Capricornia.
Each year, the Championship is generally decided from the Cairns vs. Crusaders match and again, in 2017 it was no different. Both regions entered the match undefeated and in typical fashion, was hard fought. The Crusaders secured a tight 8 point win, however the margin was only put beyond a kick in the dying minutes after an impressive goal by Captain, Fitzroy Greenwool. Fitzroy Greenwool Action Shot attached.
The final game of the Championship was played against Townsville and was the Crusaders most convincing. The Crusaders managed a Championship highest score of 10.6-66 to defeat Townville by 40 points. Again, Fitzroy Greenwool was influential, kicking six first half goals to seal the victory early.
Not only were the Crusaders crowned North Queensland Champions, but the following Players were selected or representative honours:
U16 North Queensland Selection:
Philemon Baira, Jayden Sagaukaz & Hamiso Tabuai
U17 Queensland State Selection:
Myron Ahwang, Fitzroy Greenwool & Tui Lowah
The Crusaders Coach, Joshua Hanlon was very proud of the teams result. Hanlon said “We had 23 players contribute across all four games which was pleasing. Before the Championships, we spoke about everyone playing their role and being a leader in the team, which they did”. Hanlon also believed the style of play the Crusaders base their game on is hard for opposition coaches to contain. “The Crusaders have plenty of quick, agile and skilful players that generally out run other teams, but on the other hand when the contested ball is needed to be won, our boys don’t shy away” Hanlon said.
Crusaders 5.8-38 def. Mackay 2.2-14
GOAL KICKERS: Tui Lowah, Navaki Fujii, Victor Bulmer, Craig Googleye & Hamiso Tabuai
BEST PLAYERS: Tui Lowah, Myron Ahwang, Michael Yunkaporta, Parlyane Naawi, Hamiso Tabuai & Navaki Fujii
Crusaders 3.8-26 def. Capricornia 2.2-14
GOAL KICKERS: Cedric Pearson, David Esrom & Phillip Toby
BEST PLAYERS: Hamiso Tabuai, Tui Lowah, Jayden Sagaukaz, David Esrom, Myron Ahwang & Philip Toby
Crusaders 5.4-34 def. Cairns 4.2-26
GOAL KICKERS: Craig Googleye, David Esrom, Billy Dau, Victor Bulmer, Fitzroy Greenwool
BEST PLAYERS: Hamiso Tabuai, Fitzroy Greenwool, Jayden Sagaukaz, Victor Bulmer & Euwanae Mairu
Crusaders 10.6-66 def. Townsville 4.2-26
GOAL KICKERS: Fitzroy Greenwool 7, Hamiso Tabuai, Victor Bulmer & Craig Googleye
BEST PLAYERS: Parlyane Naawi, Fitzroy Greenwool, Richard Dau, Tui Lowah & Hamiso Tabuai