Oztag: Port Macquarie Sharks players impress over in New Zealand

Victors: Dave Bradley's Port Macquarie men's 45s were too good over in New Zealand. Photo: Supplied
Victors: Dave Bradley's Port Macquarie men's 45s were too good over in New Zealand. Photo: Supplied

THEY have done it at State Cup level and now the Port Macquarie Sharks have done it on the international stage.

The Sharks claimed the 2017 Challenge Cup in New Zealand at the weekend after completing their six-game campaign undefeated.

Port Macquarie played in a tri-series again Manukau County and Hibiscus Coast as the NSW representatives after their success earlier in the year.

Led by Greg Smith, Peter Gleeson and Greg Gleeson, the Sharks stepped up a level in a performance that satisfied coach Dave Bradley.

“We played each side twice and the Manakau boys were really skillful, but weren’t quite as nimble as us,” Bradley said.

“They were blokes that just loved their footy, but we were a lot fitter and pretty much towelled them up.”

The match of the weekend was a 5-3 win over Hibiscus Coast when the Sharks scored on full-time with the scores level at 3-all.

“Over there you’ve got a box where if you score there the tries are worth two points,” Bradley said.

“It was the best game we’ve played in about two years because they were a really good side.”

The Kiwis called in five or six New Zealand national players, but the Sharks were still too good.

We’ve done a lot in a seven and eight year period so it proved we’ve earned the title and we did really well.

Port Macquarie Sharks men's 45s coach Dave Bradley

“I thought they were going to ambush us because of the players we knew they had in their team,” the Port Macquarie coach said.

“We’ve done a lot in a seven and eight year period so it proved we’ve earned the title and we did really well.”

The success of the team showed the level of tag the Sharks have played could be traced back to a strong local competition.

“When you go over there you want to play that level of tag and you want to play against the best,” Bradley said.

The performances of Steve Kipreatis and Wayne Oliver also impressed the coach.

“They’re the blokes that turn up every week and you know they’ll never let you down,” he said.

“The most pleasing aspect about the weekend is that we aimed up against some very good teams.”

Meanwhile, Port Macquarie women’s quartet Laura Cudmore, Mandy McCudden, Claire Thurlow and Dianne Lawrence performed well over the ditch.

They won gold in the women’s 27s and silver in the overall women’s divisions with the ACT.

“It was a pretty good effort from us considering we played three open teams and a couple of under-21s as well,” Cudmore said.

They won four games, drew two and lost three with a first-up 9-1 victory over New Zealand the most impressive performance of the weekend.

“We finished third overall and played second in the semi-final who we beat and then lost to Central Coast open’s in the final.”