After weeks of rumour and speculation, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have finally confirmed the sign...
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In a replay of last year?s intense battle, Endeavour Sports and Keebra Park High Schools went toe-to-toe in the 2006 Arrive Alive Cup Grand Final with this year?s result again a victory for the southern Sydney team by 16-7.
Endeavour now become only the second team to win three titles back-to-back, joining St Gregory?s Campbelltown who won the premier schoolboys competition from 1989 to 1991.
The game began at a rapid pace with both sides making strong in-roads to their opposition territory. Stinging defence on the goal-line prevented several opportunities with scrambling efforts from either school making for a desperate contest.
Midway through the first half rangy Endeavour backrower Lane busted through Keebra out wide before drawing the fullback and off-loading to a well-positioned Carr who dived over under the posts. Stanley converted to open up a six-point lead.
Classy Keebra five-eighth Lui was involved heavily in the early stages before he took the ball from a scrum following an Endeavour mistake, found some room, stepped then fended and raced 20 metres to score next to the stick. Fullback Parata added the extras to tie-up the score line with only a few minutes remaining in the first half.
A mistake from Ellis close to his line offered Keebra another chance to score with a three-man decoy play under the posts finding rampaging forward Vaiga, only for him to drop the ball over the line. Despite a late first half attacking raid by Endeavour, the schools headed into the sheds at 6-all.
Endeavour came out fired up in the second half making some ruthless tackles and showing a desire to keep the ball alive when in possession. Some tensions began to boil over as well with the referee Chris James using the whistle to diffuse any heated situations.
With both teams working very hard for points and neither side being able to crack the other?s line, Keebra?s Lui snapped a field goal with 14 minutes to play, pushing the Gold Coast high school ahead for the first time in the match.
Ayshford for Endeavour went close but was held-up on the fifth before Keebra spilled the ball from the restart. Three plays later they pushed it to the left flank for towering replacement Cherrington to finally break the line. Captain Fepuleai hit the post with the conversion, leaving the game open with a few minutes to play.
But a restart that went dead on the full handed the ball back to Endeavour with good field position and they made good use of it. Fepuleai made a damaging break again down the left flank before fining Cherrington lurking with intent. The replacement backrower scored his second for the day, wrapping up the Arrive Alive Cup for the third year in a row.
Stanley put the icing on the cake with a conversion from the sideline and strangely the final score of 16-7 was the same as Endeavours first victory over Blacktown High School in 2004.
Matthew Mundine was awarded the Peter Sterling Award as the best performed player throughout the competition.
Endeavour Sports High 16 (Carr, Cherington 2 , tries; Stanley 2/2, Fepuleai 0/1 goals) def. Keebra Park High Scool (Lui, , tries; Parata 1/1 goals; Lui field goal). Referee: Chris James.
Endeavour Sports High: 1. Karauria-Henry 2. Hume 3. Tala 4. Stanley 5. Ellis 6. Carr 7. Ezekiel 8. Leha 9. Fepuleai (c) 10. Pakutoa 11. Lane 12. Mundine 13. Ayshford
Interchange: 14. Letele 15. Randall 16. Whare 17. Cherrington
Coach: Jeff Hardy
Keebra Park High School: 1. Parata 2. Clarke 3. Bos 4. Akaoula 5. Sullivan 6. Lui 7. Makaui 8. Vaiga 9. Poland (c) 10. McGill 11. Wihongi-Seia 12. Thompson 13. Harth
Interchange: 14. Thomas 15. Vea 16. De Paul 20. Edwards
Coach: Greg Lenton