The 2015 Junior Gold Cup competition has concluded this weekend at McGillivray Oval in Perth with Western Australia taking out the Under 15's grand final, 29-24, and in the Under 17's the ACT pipped the home side 17-15.
The Junior Gold Cup Competition is the Australian Rugby Union's nationally run elite pathways competition in the Pathway to Gold Program. In 2015 over 1200 Rugby players participated across 24 regions and 48 teams.
The Pathway to Gold Program is the ARU's elite Pathways program designed to create the next generation of Qantas Wallabies, Super Rugby players and Sevens Stars.
Under 15's: Western Australia 29 defeated the ACT 24
There was plenty of action in the U15 grand final with both sides relentless in their attack but it was WA who came out on top in front of an their ecstatic home crowd.
WA flyhalf Campbell Parata was the standout in the match, scoring 24 of Western Australia’s 29 points with unfaltering accuracy from the boot and a try in the second half that kick-started his side’s comeback from a 10-point deficit.
After Parata had WA on the board early with a long-range penalty goal from a difficult angle, ACT took a 5-3 lead when quick passes moved the ball in-field from the lineout and fullback Brendan Jimenez crossed for his first of the day. Another penalty goal for Parata when ACT was pulled up for not releasing put WA ahead 6-5.
Jimenez scored his brace in thrilling fashion with an 80 metre run to dot it down under the posts. Sterling Dayle added the conversion and the visitors had the 12-6 lead.
With time up in the first half, Parata slotted his third penalty to get the WA side back within three points at the half-time break.
ACT extended their lead to 19-9 early in the second when they sent it wide to Jack Gilmore who passed it to Wezley Alexander on his outside to sprint the 50 metres to the try-line.
Parata shortened the gap to just three points when he received the pass from scrumhalf Connor O’Sullivan at the base of the ruck and darted through to cross under the posts before slotting the conversion.
A fourth penalty for Parata evened up the scores 19-all before WA stole back the lead when they moved the ball down the sideline to see Jaylen Tuapola cross in the corner. Parata’s conversion took it to 26-19 and he then pushed the lead out to ten points with another successful penalty kick.
With not long left on the clock, ACT scrambled to recoup the points and a charge down from a kick saw Zane Maralt scores the try to get them within five points. Time eventually got the better of ACT and WA took the U15 Junior Gold Cup title, 29-24.
WA 29 (Campbell Parata, Jaylen Tuapola try; Campbell Parata 2 conversions, 5 penalty goals) defeated ACT 24 (Joel Atkins, Brendan Jimenez, Wezley Alexander, Zane Maralt tries; Sterling Dayle 2 conversions)
Under 17's: ACT 17 defeated Western Australia 15
Despite a gallant performance, WA was unable to defend their Under 17 Junior Gold Cup title against a persistent ACT side.
ACT took the 7-0 lead through patient play that resulted in Lachlan Osborne breaking through the defence to cross the try-line before Mack Hansen added the extras.
WA evened things up when quick hands spread it wide and the subsequent personnel overlap found Neli Auvea with no one between him and line. Flyhalf Anthony Hondros slotted the conversion easily.
Tomasi Masabaka scored his fifth try of the tournament when he barrelled through the opposition line to take the lead to 12-7 through to the half-time break.
ACT took the 14-12 lead in the second when patient phase play on the line saw Sam Dobb run through from the pass off the back of the ruck to score next to the posts and Hansen added the conversion.
The lead changed again when Hondros capitalised on an ACT penalty, banging it over the crossbar to take it to 15-14.
ACT stole back the lead and the title when Hansen slotted a penalty and despite the efforts of WA they couldn’t claw back the two points, losing 15-17.
ACT 17 (Jordan Nicholls, Sam Dobb tries; Mack Hansen 2 conversions, penalty goal) defeat WA 15 (Neli Auvea, Tomasi Masabaka tries; Anthony Hondros conversion, penalty goal)