"THEY'RE something special this team.''
So said South Taree under 15s rugby league side coach Doug Ferguson after Souths won the NSW Koori Rugby League Knockout on the Central Coast on Monday October 7.
Souths won four matches in the tournament - two on the opening day to qualify for the semi-finals. The semi against Butucarbin Warriors - a team of Sydney's west - was one of the best games of the tournament. Scores were locked at 12-12 at fulltime before Souths scored a try in golden point to win 16-12.
This put Souths in the the grand final against Toomelah Tigers. Here Souths regained possession after kicking off and scored almost immediately. However, Ferguson admitted his players were slightly off their game in the match.
"I don't know what it was, but the boys certainly weren't 100 per cent,'' he said.
Despite this Souths still had too much class for the Tigers. They were never headed in winning 20-10.
"We should have won by more,'' Ferguson said.
He refused to signal out any individual players.
"Knockout football is team football,'' he explained.
"Everyone has to put in. It's fast, it's skillful and it's physical.''
Souths opened the tournament with a 34-4 win and then Ferguson said the team produced their most complete performance when accounting for Newcastle 18-0 in the second round to book a finals appearance.
The tournament is knockout football - there's no second chances for beaten teams.
Souths didn't fare as well in the other grades, however Ferguson said in the main the teams were young. This was South Taree's return to the knockout after missing the 2018 tournament.
"They'll be a force to be reckoned with in years to come,'' he predicted.
He added his team had strong support for the final.
"The South Taree community was right behind them. It was great,'' he said.
It's been a successful year for coach Ferguson. He's now guided Taree Panthers to a win in the Group Three under 15 competition and Group Three 15s to the Country championship as well as South Taree's knockout victory.
"I'm blessed to coach some special sides,'' he said.
Ferguson said the side will now move to the under 17s next year. The majority of players were in the winning under 13 side two years ago.
The 2020 knockout will be played at a venue in the Shoalhaven area. This follows South Coast Black Cocatoos' 40-12 win over Griffith Three Ways in the men's final. Cronulla prop Andrew Fifita played for Three Ways.
The 2020 knockout will be the event's 50th anniversary.