Representing their clubs in tonight's Rugby League Ipswich junior grand finals are (front) Harry Sammut, Cooper Rahn, Jake Wade and Paea Puleiku; and (back) Peniata Jnr Poutasi, Khan Towler, Faalaa Kolio and Brave Taualai.
Representing their clubs in tonight's Rugby League Ipswich junior grand finals are (front) Harry Sammut, Cooper Rahn, Jake Wade and Paea Puleiku; and (back) Peniata Jnr Poutasi, Khan Towler, Faalaa Kolio and Brave Taualai. Cordell Richardson

Ipswich's best junior footballers display winning qualities

DEVELOPING respect, meeting new challenges, strengthening community ties and providing fun for young players.

They are four of the common themes emerging among the under-12, under-13 and under-14 teams preparing for tonight's Rugby League Ipswich junior grand finals.

Goodna is the best represented club with sides in the under-12 and under-13 Peel Air Premiership competitions.

However, Brothers, Norths, Springfield and Redbank also have exciting young teams involved in the end of season games at the North Ipswich Reserve.

Club presidents, or coaches, like Michael Williams (Brothers), Brett McCabe (Norths), Leeanne Fox (Goodna), Aliv Aliva (Redbank) and Natalie Fox (Springfield) were proud of what their youngest sides achieved this season.

Brothers club president Williams was delighted to see the under-12 Blue side make another grand final.

The young footballers have continued a strong club tradition this season after Brothers Blue beat Brothers White 16-12 in last year's under-12 title decider.

"We do think it is a positive reflection on the focus we have on development for those junior grades,'' Williams said.

"You go into a grand final and you'd love to see them win a premiership but for us, the focus is on developing young kids, growing into young men and women.''

The latest minor premiership-winning Brothers Blue side advanced directly into tonight's grand final after defeating Springfield Black 22-18.

Williams said the Brothers team included boys from the younger grades, first-time footballers and some girls' representatives.

In his first year as club president after four years as a registrar, Williams said the most satisfying part of working with the kids was seeing their improvement.

"It's the first year that the 12s get graded into a team and play competition footy,'' he said. "So it's always great to see your 12s gel as a team . . . and they've come together so quickly and put together a great season.

"It's really exciting.''

Goodna junior club president Leeane Fox was pleased the under-13 Black team reached the grand final.

Although having limited numbers this season due to injuries and representative football, the Goodna Black combination stuck together finishing minor premiers.

They advanced directly to the grand final with a 40-0 win over Norths Blue.

"They have had a good year but they've struggled with players,'' Fox said.

Fox said the team's six Diggers and Met West representative players had worked well with the other committed youngsters.

In her third year as club president, Fox said the Goodna club fielded 22 teams this season, including two girls' sides.

"Almost every team, all of our international (Premier competition) sides were in it (finals contention) until the last round,'' she said. "So that's not a bad effort and more than what I expected.''

Goodna's under-12 team also qualified for the grand final after beating Springfield Black 28-18 in last week's preliminary final.

Springfield junior club president Natalie Fox praised her under-14 Black side for a terrific effort after some early season challenges.

After a dominant 2017 season where Springfield Black won the under-13 competition, this year's under-14 players were split into two teams.

"They had to work harder,'' Fox said.

That was highlighted in their recent semi-final where the minor premiers fought back from 10-0 down to beat Redbank 18-10.

"They did really well. I'm real happy with how they've pulled together as a team this year,'' Fox said.

Fox commended Springfield junior coach Phil Poutasi for guiding the kids through a transition period.

"I'm really proud of the coach and the team that didn't start the way they probably would have liked,'' Fox said.

"But they've held in there, they've been resilient and they still did amazing through the whole season.''

In her second year as club president, Fox was also encouraged to see 25 teams representing the region, including five making finals in the premier junior competition.

She said it was a "tricky balance'' helping the sport grow by supporting young players wanting to better themselves and those who want to play for fun.

"It's important. At the end of the day, we just want kids to enjoy themselves, stay active and participate,'' Fox said.

"We're just trying to be a club that we're really proud of being in the community, working hard with different sponsors, to give back to the community as well.''

Look out for more junior grand final stories online and in The Queensland Times newspaper.

Friday night's junior grand finals at the North Ipswich Reserve

6pm: Under-12 Peel Air Premiership - Brothers Blue v Goodna Black.

7pm: Under-13 Peel Air Premiership - Goodna Black v Norths Blue.

8.15pm: Under-14 Peel Air Premiership - Springfield Black v Redbank.

The under 15 and under 17 grand finals are on Saturday the same venue.

Don't miss the comprehensive Rugby League Ipswich grand final program in Saturday's QT.



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