Led by the Hornets under 18 Boys team, the Hills Hornets have had their best Junior State Cup Campaign in their short history.
Coming into Sunday, 7 of the 10 Hornets teams had made it into the round of 16 – the U10 Boys, U16 Boys, U18 Boys, U10 Girls, U12 Girls, U14 Girls, and U18 Girls.
Pleased with that achievement, the hope was come Sunday morning a few of those 7 teams would get through to the quarter finals.
The u10 Girls got the ball rolling with the first Hornets victory on sudden death Sunday. This was followed by u16 boys with a good win over Carlingford. The Hornets were on a roll, and as more results started coming in, it was Hornets win after Hornets win after Hornets win. In total 6 of the 7 teams progressed to the quarter finals.
The unlucky seventh team was the Girls under 14’s team, who despite only dropping one game during Friday and Saturday, drew Manly first up – the eventual champions – for their round of 16 game.
For most teams, a top 8 finish would be as far as they would get. An excellent achievement in state wide competition with divisions of 30 plus teams.
But the under 18 boys weren’t finished and became the story of the tournament for the Hills. After a very slow start to the competition where they lost both games on Friday, they came out on the Saturday and started a run of victories, winning all 3 games on the Saturday and booking a spot in the round of 16.
The U18 boys drew heavyweights Penrith first up on Sunday. Penrith had only dropped 1 game for the tournament. Led by club captain Ray Wehbe, u18 boys got past Penrith 4-2 to continue their winning run to 4 in a row.
Next came the undefeated Wests Magpies who had only conceded 8 tries in their 5 round games, and had just cruised through their round of 16 game 7-3.
If Wests were the unbackable favourites, someone forgot to tell the Hornets. Despite Wests scoring the first try, the Hornets finished over the top, winning the game 3-2 and booking a spot in a semi-final that seemed a world away just 24 hours earlier.
The boys came up against a red hot Newcastle in the semi-final and played with a lot of heart but could not come away with a victory. Newcastle went on to win the u18 boys competition.
President Brad Mitchell was beaming with pride. “This is what we have been working towards in the short time we’ve been competing at Junior State Cup. This is our 5th year in a competition that has been running for 20 years. This will provide such a boost for the club, and most importantly give our players the belief that if they keep working hard, a championship is within our reach.”
When the final club championship points were tallied up, the Hornets finished an impressive 9th in the state – in front of clubs that field premier league teams like Penrith, Roosters and Wollongong.
Things are on the up at the Hills. Bring on Junior State Cup 2018!