A FOOTBALL campaign stretching four years has come to fruition, with Port Macquarie’s St Paul’s High School under-16 AFL side securing a maiden victory in the grand final of the Swans Cup school competition.
St Paul’s became the first school outside of the Sydney or the Riverina district to take out the coveted trophy 52-17 over Knox Grammar School.
The side travelled to Newcastle last Wednesday to contest the final, after winning round robin competitions at the Mid-North Coast and North Coast level.
Coach Lincoln Beddoe said he always felt the side had a good chance after seeing the school get beaten by larger, more skilled sides in previous years.
“This year it was us who were the bigger more experienced side,” he said.
“This victory firmly cements Port Macquarie on the AFL landscape from now on.”
The side comprised a number of skilled AFL players in the North Coast AFL level and some gifted sportsmen who play a number of codes.
Port Macquarie Magpies player Jamie Carroll captained the side and was ecstatic following the win.
“There’s a lot of players in this team who’ve been chasing this for a while now. We just manned up and got the job done,” Carroll said after the game.
The road to victory included an energy sapping three round games against St Paul’s Manly, Knox Grammar and St Joseph’s Catholic High School, Wollongong.
The St Paul’s side comfortably won against the Manly and Wollongong sides with a blend of skill and hardness at the football, and was only troubled by the Knox Grammar side.
It was a determined and focused St Paul’s side that hit the field in the grand final. Exploding out of the blocks, the side kicked seven goals three behinds to Knox Grammar’s one behind in the first half.
Aided by a generous breeze, St Paul’s blew the opposition off the park.
Half back flank Harry Sargent dominated possession throughout the game, stopping countless raids into St Paul’s defensive 50 and running the ball deep into attack.
In what was a defining role in the team’s victory, Sargent’s efforts earned him Best on Ground in the final and the match ball as a souvenir.
The only low light to come out of the game was a dislocated finger to full forward Brock Longworth after he kicked two goals in the first half.
The St Paul’s High School team now contests the AFL State Cup at Blacktown on August 23.