Zone finals to be played at Tuncurry

Rory Kennewell from Wingham under 15s controls the ball during the southern grand final against Taree. Wingham will play in the zone championship game on Sunday at the Harry Elliott Oval.
Rory Kennewell from Wingham under 15s controls the ball during the southern grand final against Taree. Wingham will play in the zone championship game on Sunday at the Harry Elliott Oval.

FOOTBALL Mid North Coast’s junior zone champions will be determined on Saturday and Sunday at the Harry Elliott Oval at Tuncurry.

This will be in conjunction with the first and reserve grade grand finals played on Saturday afternoon.

The under 12s and 13s will be played Saturday starting at 10am with the 14s, 15s and 16s on Sunday, also from 10am

Under 12s

The first of the 2018 zone championship matches will kick off at 10am on Saturday. Grand final winners from the U12 north and south will be the opening match on FMNC Premier League grand final day.

Western Phoenix as a club joined the FMNC family in 2018 and entered two competitive junior teams. One of those, an all-girls team was in the Northern U12 competition. Well graded, the side finished fifth in the regular season before some close matches in the finals series which ended with a 3-0 grand final win over premiers Macleay Valley Rangers.

Hallidays Point had a very similar season to Phoenix. Finishing third in the Southern regular season, the Barracudas put together a strong finals series. They defeated Premiers Tuncurry-Forster Tigers Gold 4-0 to book their place in the grand final. They then went on to win that match, also 4-0 to secure the title and advance to this weekend’s zone match.

Under 13s

Two impressive sides will do battle in the 13s. Port United Crocodiles (north) and Cundletown Jets (south) both finished premiers after both finishing second on the table in 2017.

The United Crocodiles were undefeated northern premiers this season and champions with a 2-1 win over Port Saints Leopards in the grand final. They also won the U12 grand final in 2017 after only one loss during the season before going on to take the U12 zone championship with a 3-1 win over Great Lakes Vikings.

Cundletown were crowned champions this year after defeating Tuncurry Forster Gold 2-0 in the grand final. As U12s, the Jets narrowly missed a shot at the zone championship when they lost the grand final 3-2 against Great Lakes Vikings.

Under 14s

What a great way to kick off proceedings on day two on Sunday of the FMNC Zone Championship matches with an intriguing U14 match up. Both the Port United Wallabies and the Great Lakes Vikings sides have been a dominant force in recent seasons.

Representing the northern part of the zone, the United Wallabies come into the match as premiers (just the one loss) and champions after their 3-1 win in the grand final over Port Saints Bears. They also took out the U13 zone championship last season with a 2-0 win over Pacific Palms Panthers. They were undefeated premiers in the U13 northern competition last year before their 6-0 win in the grand final over Lake Cathie Raiders. In 2016 as U12s, the Wallabies were beaten grand finalists (1-3 against Lake Cathie Raiders) after coming from sixth on the table.

Great Lakes Vikings also had just the one loss this season on their way to being premiers and champions of the south. In the grand final they secured a 2-1 victory in extra time against Hallidays Point Barracudas. Making the season extra impressive is the fact the side played in U12s last year, effectively skipping an age group in 2018. Last year as undefeated premiers in the U12 south competition, they won the grand final 3-2 over Cundletown Jets before going down 3-1 to Port United Crocodiles in the zone match up.

Under 15s

The second match on Sunday morning in the zone championships will be the U15 encounter between Wauchope Axemen and Wingham Wanderers. Both sides finished second on their respective competition ladders before going on to win grand finals.

Wauchope Axemen will look to replicate their 2017 success when they took the title with a 5-0 win over Gloucester Scorpions. They defeated premiers Port United Crocodiles twice in this seasons U15s finals series including a 2-0 victory in the grand final. Last season they were undefeated premiers in the U14s north and also took out the grand final with a 2-0 win over Malceay Valley Rangers. The team only came together in 2016 in the U13s and after finishing second on the table, went down 2-1 to Macleay Valley Rangers in the grand final that season.

Wingham Wanderers have been an improving force in the southern competitions. A big 5-1 win over Premiers Tuncurry Forster Tigers Black took them into the grand final this season. They continued that form with a 4-0 victory over the Taree Wildcats to be crowned champions. It was their first grand final appearance after some consistent seasons together. In 2017 they finished fifth before going out in week one of the U14 finals. As U13s in 2016 and U12s in 2015, they finished fourth before making it to week two2 of the final series both seasons.

Under 16s

The U16 zone Championship match will feature two sides that found strong form in the finals series after somewhat inconsistent regular seasons. Port Saints Sharks finished third in the north while Tuncurry-Forster Tigers Black finished fourth in the southern competition.

The Sharks have had some strong seasons and this includes taking out the 2017 U15 zone championship with a 3-1 win over the Moorland Devils. They defeated premiers Port United Dragons twice in this season’s finals including a 2-0 victory in the grand final. It was their third grand final win in a row after taking out the 2017 U15 title (3-2 over Port United Goannas) as premiers, and the 2016 U14 title (3-0 over Premiers Port United Dragons) after finishing 2nd. As U13s in 2015 Sharks made it to week two of the finals after finishing sixth and in 2014 as U12s, they also went out in week two of the finals after finishing second.

It was a case of third time lucky for the Tuncurry Forster Tigers Black side after losing grand finals in 2017 (U15s after finishing third) and 2016 (U14s as premiers). This year however, they had the perfect finals series after finishing fourth on the ladder, winning all four matches in the post season, the last being a 3-0 win in the grand final over premiers Great Lakes Vikings to set up Sunday’s clash against the Sharks. The Tigers were also involved in southern finals series in 2015 after finishing fifth (out in week one of U13 finals) and in 2014 after finishing seventh (out in week two of U12 finals).

Under 18s

Some of the FMNC Premier League’s current and future young talent will be on display for their respective clubs when they take to the field in the U18 zone championship on Sunday. Camden Haven Redbacks and the Tuncurry Forster Tiger Black sides will go head to head with the match kicking off at 2.30pm.

Back-to-back extra time grand final wins were secured by the Redbacks when they defeated premiers Port United Wolves 3-2 last weekend (after finishing thirdd during the season). Last year as undefeated premiers in the U16s, they took a 4-3 win, also in extra time when they defeated Port Saints Leopards. The 2017 result booked their place in the U16 zone championship, a match which they lost 8-0 to an impressive Tuncurry Forster Gold outfit.

Premiers for the third season in a row, Tuncurry Forster Tigers Black finally secured another grand final victory when they defeated club-mates Tuncurry Forster Tigers Gold 4-2 in the U18s title decider. Last season as U16s premiers, they were beaten by Wingham Warriors to fall a game short of playing in the grand final after a near perfect season.