Gilbert's gold touch
FINALS always offer an opportunity for players to become heroes.
Corey Gilbert took his opportunity, stepping up and scoring the winning touchdown in extra time in the division two Bundaberg Mixed Touch final last week.
The teenage sensation was named player of the match for Bundy Hardware in the 6-5 golden-try win against Crank-Ems last Tuesday, in what was a typically edge-of-the seat decider.
“I was watching from the sidelines and couldn’t take my eyes off it. It was an amazing game to witness,” Sharyn Andrews, mother of victorious Tayla Andrews, said.
The young side was expecting a contest, considering previous games between the sides this season had either been tied or one-touchdown wins.
“It was always going to be a close one, and it went try for try right through the game. It was anyone’s to win,” player-coach Terri Gilbert said.
Gilbert, a former Queensland and Australian over-35s player, adopted a mentoring role several seasons ago, and has watched as her juniors developed into the champion side on display last Tuesday night.
The Bundaberg development officer called on all her experience to lead her young side to a thrilling premiership.
“I’ve been trying to bring these juniors through into the senior ranks. These guys in particular I’ve had a bit to do with lately, and the improvement they have shown is phenomenal,” she said.
Tyson Whaleboat, at just 12 years old, was the side’s youngest member, while Tom Kronk at 14 played beyond his years.
Kronk was part of the unbeaten Central Queensland Bulls that claimed the Queensland under-14 title in September.
He was selected for the Queensland under-14 side, and later named vice-captain, while Bundaberg High School team-mate Zak Bainbridge will lead the team south.
They will make the trip to Gold Coast tomorrow, along with local Bulls team-mates Tyran Stebhens and Brayden Schulte.
“It’s a big honour for those two boys (to be named as captains), because the coach is from Gold Coast. He has only seen them playing briefly and was obviously really impressed,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert said it was important the strong junior talent continued to be fostered.
“We need that flow-on from juniors to seniors, but we also need seniors to remain in the competition to provide guidance for these youngsters,” Gilbert said.