Rugby union thrives in the west

IT MAY have been a long time between drinks for Central West Rugby Sevens but that didn’t stop the Central Highlands boys making their mark on the Barcaldine carnival with an impressive 29-10 final win.

The combined Capella-CQ University side appeared out for the count midway through the grand final against an under-19 CQ Brahmans side, but clawed back late in the second half to finish 19 points ahead.

“They (under-19s) did quite well, we only ran away with it in the last couple of minutes,” Johnston said.

“They were quick, we were certainly trying to tie them down a bit.”

CQ University player Jono Bradbury said he had to pull out all stops to keep the under-19 runaways at bay.

“I’m a second-rower – sevens isn’t really in my repertoire,” he said.

“They had a lot of young fast players but age and experience got us over the line.

“We hadn’t trained at all but we stuck to our game plan.”

The winning Highlands side played four games during the day-long carnival with the warm conditions taking a toll on all players involved.

“They forecasted for 38 degrees,” Joel said.

“Everyone was on rotation – we had three substitutions but by the final we were down to only nine players.”

It was the first time in almost six years the Central West had hosted a sevens tournament and going by the strong support received at the weekend, it may be here for many years to come.

“We had some really good feedback,” Barcaldine sevens co-ordinator Leisa Pearce said.

“The whole idea was to encourage more rugby participation in the west and by the looks of it, it seems we’ve done just that. We have even got a few of the league boys who said they would come for a run with us.”

The Barcaldine side placed runner-up in the Plate championship and the final four teams placed third and fourth in the championship.

One side which was hard to miss was the thundering invitational side comprising a player combination drawn from a number of different teams.

The only requirement was that players had to tip the scales at over 100kg.

“Originally Mt Isa were meant to be in the competition but had to pull out so we came up the idea of an invitational side,” Leisa said.

“It was fun to watch and added a bit of humour to the games.”

The big fellas went down to the Longreach Jumbucks in one of the lower placed finals.

The girls were not left out either with exhibition games between the Barcaldine and Longreach sides rousing plenty of curious spectators to sidelines.

“The girls were very popular – I think the blokes were more interested in the women’s games than the men’s,” Pearce said.

The calls for more women’s rugby in the west has been so strong, more exhibition games are already on the cards when the Western Queensland representative side hosts Rockhampton and Central Highlands teams in April.

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