Elite 8 Wrap up – 2016
The biggest touch football tournament on the calendar for Elite touch players took place in March and I was fortunate enough to play along some of the sports greatest players but more importantly, some of my best mates!
After an alignment with the three QLD NRL teams earlier in the year, our QLD teams competing were renamed the Broncos, Cowboys and Titans. Growing up and ever since I can remember I have been a Brisbane Broncos Supporter through and through. This made pulling on the Broncos colours for the sport I love even more special and I was very proud to wear the Jersey.
After a big first day with 3 wins (something we had never achieved before) the confidence we came into the carnival with grew. The thing is with the Elite 8 series is there are no easy games. Switch off for half a game and you will be staring down the barrel of a loss and with only 4 spots in finals, switching off or having an off game was not on option.
For our Broncos girls it was neither of these things that started to unwind our usually composed and clinical team. Being the reigning champions and with several current and recent Australian representatives, brings confidence; and pressure. Pressure to perform to potential, not as an individual but as a team. Sydney Rebels and our very own QLD Cowboys capitalised on their opportunities in our round games and were composed and clinical themselves. Down by a few tries with minutes to go in both games, we clutched onto everything we had to fight back and keep the games drawn at the last hooter. Although this left us undefeated through the rounds, 2 draws kicked us down to 2nd place heading into the finals. This meant a 2nd vs 3rd replay against our QLD Cowboys girls!
Finals day was always going to be a great day. Not only for me and my team but for QLD Touch Football as a whole. If I wasn’t the proudest player out there for our state that day I would have been a close second. We had all 3 QLD women’s team qualify for finals. Both young QLD teams had very different games; Cowboys with a perfectly executed game plan to maximise the involvement of some of the best up and coming attacking players in the game and Titans with an abundance of youth paired with some very experienced women who do the hard work and do it so well, and more importantly they played for each other.
Our semi final was always going to be a battle. A battle of field possession and a battle of the mind. To be honest I don’t remember a lot, and that is usually a sign of a hard fought battle. Executing every opportunity we had to score tries, I remember finally getting on top of them. We just needed to hold onto it. If any one has ever seen Tamika Upton play she can literally pull tries out of nowhere so we were fighting until the end. One broken nose and an excessive amount of unbreakable line defence by Hayley Maddick later and the minutes wound down to zero with the final hooter sounding. We were through to the most important game of all.
This excitement and relief was short lived and quickly replaced by a soft sense of pride and an inch of commiseration. To hear the screams coming from field 1, we knew that the team we would play would not be who we expected. It would not be Sydney Mets, our long time rivals. It would not be a team led out by Louise Winchester and her sister Claire, two of the greatest players the sport has seen. We felt for our rivals, because we have all been there. We have all felt the heart break of defeat, and at the end of the day these were our friends who had just lost something we knew they had worked so hard to achieve.
It was going to be a QLD derby and we would be facing a young QLD Titans team who had just proved to not only the whole carnival but to themselves that they deserved a spot in that final.
We knew getting to the final was something, winning it needed to be something else. With the calm reassurance of our Coach Lucas Feldman we had the plan and it was time to bring everything together. Throughout the carnival Lucas was our rock. He was the relaxed voice behind every breakdown. He had the answer to every one of our questions. Much like his predecessor he gave us all the confidence and belief in ourselves that what we had to offer to the team was important and valued.
To be honest, the rest is history. Everything came together. We were clinical, ruthless, hungry, composed and we played our way to back to back Elite 8 Championships. To see it in action and relive our 8 touchdowns with us, tune into Fox Sports 1 on Tuesday, 5 April at 4.00pm and Saturday, 9 April at 9.00am (AEST).
The QLD Titans girls played their hearts out and were lead by inspiring performances by Marriki Watego, Ashleigh Kearney and Paige Parker. Ash and Paige both impressing players, coaches and selection staff playing themselves into new positions in the Australian Women’s and Mixed teams respectively.
A big congratulation also needs to go to all women selected in Australian teams announced after the Elite 8 Tournament. We will be playing in the 2016 Trans Tasman event at the end of April in Auckland. After concluding a tough first training camp this weekend with the team, keep an eye out for an update on Vixen Sports for a wrap up of our final camp next weekend!
2016 Australian Women’s Touch football Team
Elizabeth Campbell (QLD)
Tayla Clifford (NSW)
Danielle Davis (NSW)
Rachelle Davis (NSW)
Hannah Dyball (NSW)
Samantha Hopkin (QLD)
Mia Johnstone (QLD)
Ashleigh Kearney (QLD)
Laura Peattie (NSW)
Hayley Maddick (QLD)
Yasmin Meakes (NSW)
Leah Percy (VIC)
Samantha Rodgers (NSW)
Kimberley Sue See (QLD)
Emma Sykes (QLD)
Marikki Watego (QLD)
Coach – Swain Rovelli
Assistant – Craig Morrow
Assistant – Michael Moussa
Manager – Kim Solman