Both Hallam Senior College and Victoria University battled it out on Saturday 20th September in the National Rugby League Semi-Final curtain raiser at AAMI Park.
IT WAS what dreams are made of – the big stadium, bright lights and a gathering crowd.
With their boot studs digging into the hallowed AAMI Park turf, the Hallam team barely had time to pinch themselves before they battled it out for the Melbourne Storm Cup against last year’s defending champions, ahead of the crunch-time final between the Melbourne Storm and the Newcastle Knights.
Head of Rugby League at Hallam Senior College, Jamie Fardell, said the school’s players, aged between 15 and 18, were jumping at the opportunity to compete on the same ground as many of their NRL idols.
“They were really rapt,” he said.
“Some boys thought they’d put the boots away for the season but were so happy to pull them on again for this chance.”
The game began with Hallam scoring first through the hard work of Zac Patch and Keenan Pesamino, jumping out to an early 6-0 lead before Victoria University pegged the score back. In the second half Hallam fought back from a deficit through the work of Brandon Manase, buoyed by the knowledge that they had beaten Victoria University twice throughout the year.
Mr Fardell said his Hallam side was very talented and tried to draw on the crowd’s enthusiasm, which had significantly increased after half-time.
“The players knew they had a lot of people watching them, including recruiters, and they rose to the occasion,” he said.
“They certainly lifted their intensity in the second half. The other school’s players are a bit older than ours but we were able to compete well with them.”
With both teams neck and neck, the match went into extra time after which the sides still couldn’t be separated. Both teams were crowned joint winners and presented with a trophy and a framed Melbourne Storm jersey by Storm CEO Mark Evans, collected by Hallam Captain Bennedict Halfpenny.
“We really put an emphasis on Rugby League at the school and it’s certainly the carrot at the end of the day for a lot of these kids,” Mr Fardell said.
“We have good programs around it to make sure the players are keen to be at school and also play Rugby League. We all think the schoolboy comps are really progressing.”
Posted on 26 September 2013
By LACHLAN MOORHEAD