FOR and against was all that separated Port Macquarie Makos under-16 girls’ team progressing to a possible 2018 NSW Junior State Cup final.
A 19-4 quarter-final defeat at the hands of Manly ensured the Makos bowed out earlier in the competition than they would have liked.
Despite the scoreline, they didn’t go down without a fight and coach Cath Eichmann remained upbeat following the loss.
“They talk about the luck of the draw and we didn’t get the luck of the draw this time because our crossover meant that we met Manly,” she said.
Port Macquarie had hoped to avoid the Sea Eagles until the final game of the tournament, but Wagga Wagga’s 12-try advantage over the round games ensured they topped the pool.
The Makos were then left with the daunting task of facing the Sydney side who had never been beaten at Junior State Cup level.
They talk about the luck of the draw and we didn’t get the luck of the draw this time because our crossover meant that we met Manly.Port Macquarie Makos under-16 girls coach Cath Eichmann
Eichmann’s side started slow and found themselves down 7-0 after the first 10 minutes before a stirring comeback saw them score two tries in two minutes to close the gap to 7-4.
“Speaking to their coaches after the game, they panicked and changed their game plan midway through which means we probably rattled them,” Eichmann said.
The slow start was put down to playing on the stadium in an important match against a talented side with pace to burn.
“The girls were probably a bit overawed by playing Manly and on the stadium and all of it that goes with it, but when they realised that they could compete with them they dug in,’ the coach said.
“They’ve played outstanding the whole weekend so we’ll come back again next year and hope we don’t meet Manly until the final.”
While Eichmann said the whole squad of 14 players contributed throughout the weekend, she was especially impressed with the performance of Allie Wood.
“I hate to single any players out, but Allie has been a star for a long, long time,” she said.
“She played for NSW as an under-12 but she always had some parts to her game that she needed to improve if she wants to make it to an elite level.
Speaking to their coaches after the game, they panicked and changed their game plan midway through which means we probably rattled them.Cath Eichmann
“Her and I have butted heads over that a little bit, but she’s got that x-factor.”
The Makos coach conceded the main difference between the two sides was pace and Manly’s core group of players who have “that x-factor.”
“There’s a couple of little things in defence we can work on so we don’t get caught out next time,” she said.
“But to be honest the biggest thing there was speed; they breed them fast in Manly.”
Port Macquarie bowed out in the round of 16 in the under-18 girls and boys divisions and the under-10 girls.
The under-18 girls were beaten 7-2 by Beresfield, while the under-18 boys were pipped 10-7 by Manly and the under-10 girls suffered a heartbreaking 6-5 loss to Hills Hornets.
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