The Hunter Western Hornets are abuzz after securing two Australian titles at the 2021 National Touch League at Coffs Harbour this afternoon.
The local representatives clinched the women’s 40s and senior mixed crowns on Saturday 13 March after three days of fast-paced action at C.ex Coffs International Stadium.
Both squads outclassed their respective rivals to finish the tournament undefeated, a terrific achievement in elite company.
The Hunter Western women’s 40s produced a stunning comeback to knock over the Sydney Scorpions 5-4 to snare the gold medal.
After trailing 4-1, the Hornets stormed home with Jacqui Simpson bagging two touchdowns, along with Kellie Johnston, Aylee Brain and Elizabeth Channon.
Earlier in the championships, the talented ladies accounted for the Sydney Rebels (11-1), Northern Eagles (9-2), ACT Raiders (6-0), Brisbane Cobras (3-2), South West Queensland Swans (8-3), North Queensland Cyclones (11-2) and Scorpions (3-2) to top their pool.
They then eliminated the Raiders 5-0, in the semi-final, to set up a berth in the finale.
Hunter Western’s senior mixed troop overpowered the South Queensland Sharks 8-6 in the grand final, with Ben Watts, Hayden Ryan-Hill, Reece McKeon, Ashley Miller and Mark Cecil leading the way.
That followed a 9-2 semi-final thumping over the Sunshine Coast Pineapples.
The experienced campaigners also put the Pineapples (12-5), South Australia Heat (10-2), Cobras (5-4), Rebels (11-5), Eagles (9-4), Southern Suns (7-3) and Sharks (9-8) to the sword in the preliminary rounds.
The Hornets witnessed another eight teams reaching the play-offs, too.
The mixed open outfit lost its grand final showdown 7-6 to the South Queensland Sharks, after beating the Rebels 8-4 (semis) and Eagles 7-4 (quarters).
The men’s open (8-7 v Sharks), men’s 30s (11-8 v Sharks), men’s 40s (9-4 v Sharks) and men’s 45s (3-2 v Scorpions) all bowed out one game short of the deciders.
The women’s open and men’s 50s contested the quarter-finals, suffering 3-1 and 7-3 defeats at the hands of the Cobras and Sydney Mets respectively.
But, the biggest cheer of the weekend went to the organisation’s all abilities line-up.
The inspirational players, making their National Touch League debut, produced a Herculean performance to qualify for the grand final at their first attempt.
Unfortunately, the Hornets went down 2-1 to the Scorpions in a thriller.
However, they were far from disgraced – and will look to avenge that result when the event rolls around again in 2022.