31st March 2009The National Touch League series once again has been run and won under some very wet condition in Port Macquarie over the weekend, The NTL tournament brings together the countries best players all vying for National titles in their division. This event double as the selection tournament for the National Open teams who are set to take on the New Zealand teams in Wollongong as part of a Trans Tasman series later in the year, so competition would be tough and did not disappoint.
Vipers players and coaches competed with 3 permits during the tournament with Victoria M30′s, ACT M30′s and Crusaders Open teams fielding Vipers.
The Vic Men’s 30′s team consisted of no less then 9 current Vipers players which really did not display the team game they worked on throughout the domestic season through VT and EPTA Sunday. The team displayed glimpses of brilliance on occasion but could not put that together for all games and eventually came away from the tournament in tenth position.
The week started out with a first round clash with ACT and fellow Vipers player Mick Carter who represented his home state during the week. MC’s inside knowledge of the team helped a very fast and cohesive ACT to a 10- 4 win and leave the team looking to the next game against Cobra’s for redemption. The Cobra’s game was much the same with limited opportunities and fast movement, the loud crowd in attendance mainly Victorian Crusaders players helped the team to a 7 all draw but one which needed to be won if any chance of a finals berth was to be expected. So after day 1 the lads where sitting in less then impressive spot.
Day 2 kicked off with a game in the swamp against Mets last years champions. in which basic touch was the key due to the conditions and rucking the ball was key to a win. This strategy worked and the Vic’s came away with a win 7-6 over the champs and record a history making win over Mets which has never been done before by any other Victorian team in any division. So this left the team in high spirits heading into the last round game against old foes SA, this game would decide the teams fate as a win was required to ensure bragging rights and a finals berth in 2009. The SA game was in much similar conditions as the morning’s games but the same tactics were not employed by the player’s and fancy touch begun with no effect against a quick and fired up SA team yet to win a game. To much conversation with the men in white left the Vic’s frustrated and this played into the SA teams hands as they ran in TD after TD and at one point had 5 players on the field and scored from the tap off. the 10-5 loss left the team waiting on other results to ensure them of a top 3 finish and shot at the big show. The loss by 5 TD’s eventually cost the team a finals berth and handed the Cobra’s a spot in the finals and relegated the Vic’s to a playoffs for the minors against Suns in the afternoon. Once again the conditions did not change but the game play of the team just did not adjust and continued to be out played by the Suns team how also had yet to win a game before meeting the Vic’s, The suns played simple touch with no real flair but basic and end the game with their noses in front 8-7 and another game that got away. This result left the Vic’s who just 4 hours earlier were 2nd in their pool thinking about finals to the playoff for last against old foes SA again the next day.
Day 3 was once again disappointing with SA winning the game 8-6 and relegating the Vic’s to their worst ever position 10th. A disappointing tournament for the team but some highlights for Vipers players were Jared Campbell and Stephen Young both finishing as highest scorers with Matthew Gilbertson. Youngy also took out the Player’s Player award from fellow Viper Clinton Burke for their efforts during the tournament.
Mick Carters’ team cruised through the round games and looked the goods for final spot until the semi’s when they ran into a fast finishing Canterbury team from NZ, leading by 3 TD’s at the break the boys from the nations capital were ran down in the second half and eventually finished 3rd. MC was unavailable for this match due to his coaching commitments with the Crusaders Women’s Open team which played at the same time slot. MC would surely have made a difference in this game as he has demonstrated for Vipers over the last 2 years winning the clubs’ VTL men’s MVP award.
Lost to ACT 10 -5
Drew with Cobra’s 7 all
Defeated Mets 7 – 6
Lost to SA 10-5
Lost to Suns 8 – 7
Lost to SA 8 – 6
The Women’s team was dominated with Vipers players and coaches with no less then the entire staff and seven players associated with Vipers. The ladies had there best ever preparation for this event with training camps and increased weekly sessions which included a visit from Tony El Takchi to assist the team. The ladies kicked off the tournament with some close fought games which could have gone either way and set them up for shot at the finals.
Carmen Deane also collected the Coaches award for her stellar tournament for the Crusaders Women’s team.
Lost to Gold Coast Sharks 9 – 5
Lost to NQ Cyclones 7 – 6
Lost to Southern Suns 7 – 0
Defeated Scorpions 5 – 2
Defeated Eagles 7 – 5
Lost to Barbarians 10 – 3
Defeated Hornets 11 – 6 (playoff game 9th & 10th)
Congratulations to all Vipers players and Coaches involved in this years National Touch League.
Victorian Men’s 30′s – Stephen Young, Russell Bari, Rob Mair, Jared Campbell, Johnny Moore, Dallan Kahui, Clinton Burke, Tim Grant and Stewart Dracup
ACT Men’s 30′s – Mick Carter
Crusader’s Women’s Open players – Melissa Ashmore, Carmen Deane, Brooke James, Sally Hamilton, Pat Car, Andrea Frankpitt and Julia Barry
Crusader’s Women’s Open staff – Suzy Barrett (Head Coach), Mick Carter and Stewart Dracup (Asst. Coaches), Hellie Dracup & Doug Barrett (Team Managers)