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Hunter’s Country rugby reps keen to plot City’s downfall


Country’s elite junior rugby players, including many from the Hunter, will be keen to end City’s dominance in the annual fixtures at Maitland this weekend.

The two powerful regions are set to go head-to-head in seven clashes – under-14 boys and girls, under-15 boys, under-16 boys and girls, and under-18 boys and girls – at Marcellin Park on Sunday 23 July.

And, while Country boasts supremacy over the Sydneysiders in the older age categories – the Ella Cup, Grace Hamilton Shield and Michael Brial Cup, City is the current titleholder of four crowns – the Tim Gavin Shield, Sponsors Plate, Steve Tuynman Cup and Mahalia Murphy Shield.

Local Country stars Molly Fitzhenry, Billie Backus, Matilda Lewer, Angel Rose Ngungatau and Jahzara Hovell.

Host president Todd Sheldon admitted it was a coup for the Maitland Blacks Junior Rugby Union Club to stage the event at home.

“It’s terrific for the local players,” he said.

“I think we’ve got about a dozen Maitland Blacks representatives throughout the age groups.

“And, then from the region itself, there’s probably another 20 or 30 kids from other clubs as well.

“So, it’s a strong contingent.

“But, overall, it is a wonderful thing for Maitland and the Hunter.

“Talking to NSW Junior Rugby Union officials, this is the jewel in the crown for them.

“Every year, City versus Country showcases the best young players coming through the ranks.

“As well, they’re vying for spots in NSW sides… this weekend is a genuine selection trial.

“Each team’s fighting for a [named] trophy, too, so there’s a reward at the end of the matches.

“We’re really looking forward to hosting City-Country, it’s great.

“We are going to have people coming here from all over the state, who’ve potentially never been to Maitland before.

“Of course, our facilities are also top-notch.”

Games kick off from 9.30am, with the Steve Tuynman Cup and Sponsors Plate, followed by the Tim Gavin Shield and Mahalia Murphy Shield (10.45am), Ella Cup (noon), Grace Hamilton Shield (1.30pm) and Michael Brial Cup (3pm) showdowns.

“The level of rugby that’ll be played will be fantastic,” Sheldon said.

“That is a drawcard itself.

“However, we’ll also have a barbecue and coffee shop at Marcellin Park.

“There’ll be plenty of seating, too, we’re opening upstairs so people can sit on the balcony.

“Now, all we need, is good weather… and it’ll be a great day.”

Hunter Country representatives

  • Under-14 girls: Billie Backus, Molly Fitzhenry, Jahzara Hovell, Matilda Lewer, Angel Rose Ngungatau
  • Under-14 boys: Brodie Belcher, Morgan Carter, Asera Peniata, Maximus Solofuti, Rory Tyacke, Thomas Walsh
  • Under-15 boys: Douglas Manning, Lewis Smith
  • Under-16 girls: Isla Cameron, Lauren Filip, Maronay Smuts
  • Under-16 boys: Mitchell Balzer, Harry Beckett, Jace Cox, Darcy Emmett, Oliver Lewer, James Jackson, Caleb McRae, Cody Snow
  • Under-18 girls: Evie Bailey, Leiticia Betham, Paige Cleary, Jasmine Lambkin, Emily Marsh, Lizzy Montgomery, Charlotte Rienecker, Emily Sheather, Caoimhe Waldron
  • Under-18 boys: Dan Ermer, Hamish Munro, Tom Lovegrove, Brendan Palmer, Cajun Arnfield, Nathan Vaughan

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