Under-16s National Junior Final 2016
Parramatta Eels (Harold Matthews Cup) v Townsville Blackhawks (Cyril Connell Cup)
Albert Bishop Park, Sunday 15 May
They’ve been crowned the 2016 Harold Matthews champions, but on Sunday the Parramatta Eels travel to Brisbane with the difficult task of unseating a heavyweight of Queensland’s Cyril Connell Cup.
The Townsville Blackhawks were a new name in the QRL’s under-16s competition this year – the club had been called the Townsville Stingers in previous seasons – but continued their winning ways with a second-straight Connell Cup title. They were unsuccessful in the national final in 2015, narrowly losing to the Sharks 26-20, so will be out for revenge against a red-hot Eels outfit this weekend.
On paper, it’s Parramatta who appear to be favourites in this one; the blue and golds won every game of the Harold Matthews season and while the decider was a close contest with the Knights, they deserved to win the ultimate prize last Saturday at Pepper Stadium. Like the Eels, the Blackhawks also won their Grand Final by a two point margin – they defeated the Souths Logan Magpies 20 points to 18 – and have been impressive all year, but their season has featured more narrow victories and one loss. While the game will be played on neutral ground, the Blackhawks may also take confidence from the fact that they played in Brisbane last week.
Expect plenty of attacking football in the National Junior Final – through Townsville fullback McKenzie Baker (12 tries) and Parramatta centre William Kei (20 tries), both sides boast the leading tryscorers for their respective competitions. Baker was Man Of The Match in the Blackhawk’s Grand Final victory, while Kei – a late inclusion last week – was also instrumental; his second half try gave his side a 12-8 lead over the Knights, before they eventually went on to win 16-14. Both are obvious go-to men in their team’s attack and shutting them down will be key to the opposition.
The beauty of a club championship, of course, is its unpredictable nature – expect the unexpected at Albert Bishop Park this Sunday.
Don’t miss a minute of the action – both the under-16s and under-18s National Junior Finals will be streamed LIVE on NSWRL.com.au this Sunday.