BUMPER GALLERY: Oztag at Dalton Park

Wollongong Junior Oztag are celebrating their first NSW Junior State Cup title with the under 15s girls hometown champions at Dalton Park on Sunday. 

 Wollongong beat Cronulla 5-2 in the final to earn the right to represent NSW against the Queensland champions in May.

 Wollongong enjoyed their best state Oztag championship with the under 17s girls making the final and under 13s boys and under 16s boys semi-finalists.

 The under 17s girls fought back from 2-0 down against Nepean in the decider to tie the game 2-2, before conceding a late try.

Wollongong’s under 16s boys pushed favourites Central Coast to a 5 on 5 overtime before being edged out 3-1, while the under 13s boys had their championship end in a tight loss to Nepean.

‘‘It wasn’t just our first Junior State Cup win but a magnificent performance from a host of Wollongong teams,’’ Wollongong Junior Oztag development officer Ross Thomas said.

‘‘The leadership and attitude of everyone involved, the coaches, officials, players and parents, made everyone proud.

‘‘We played every game in the right spirit, were worthy hosts and ambassadors for Oztag in Wollongong and were rewarded for all the hard work we put in.’’

Following on from being first-time hosts of the cup last year, Wollongong was headquarters to a record-breaking 273 teams and about 4350 players.

Despite almost 12 hours of junior Oztag on Friday and Saturday the tournament ran smoothly.

The lack of parking around Fairy Meadow’s Dalton Park remained a problem and there were reports of Wollongong City Council rangers booking motorists for illegal parking on Saturday morning.

But the Junior State Cup was an enormous success.

Shellharbour Association had several teams make quarter-finals and semi-finals, including two teams undefeated through the preliminary rounds.

‘‘It’s a bit heartbreaking to get teams into a semi-final and not reach a final but the competition is so strong it’s still a great effort to make the last four,’’ Shellharbour and Illawarra Cobras development officer Colin Duffy said.

Six teams representing the Cobras-based Dapto, Figtree and Woonona teams also enjoyed success in only their second Junior State Cup.

Wollongong was at its beautiful summer best in hosting the 45 NSW associations and more than 6000 Oztag players, supporters and officials.

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