The French Rugby League team spent time in Parkes last week before playing the Western Rams last Wednesday at the Jock Colley Field.
Part of the team’s program included morning tea with clients at Currajong Disability Services. The top class French players were more than happy to interact, chat to and play with participants in a number of football passing games and it wasn’t long before Currajong clients took centre stage.
“The Chanticleers have had a jam-packed promotional schedule since arriving in Parkes with Currajong being one of our most important,” said Team Manager Tas Baitieri.
“We’ve had visits to Peak Hill, Trundle, Forbes and Manildra during our four-day stop in the region. “Yet it’s moments like this that will live long in the memories of our squad,” Tas said.
Currajong’s Timbo Wheeler echoed the sentiments of the French. “I think it’s great they came and saw us. It makes us feel special. They are really good people,” he said.
“Our guys loved it!” said Indigo Kriedemann of Currajong. “They all had a blast and most love their footy, so meeting these stars is a big day for them,” she said.
Last Wednesday was a night to remember for footy fans in Parkes with an international game played in our backyard.
A record four Parkes Spacemen players were included in the Western representative team against the French Rugby League side.
It was a very tight game towards the end with the Chanticleers just beating the Western Rams 22 – 20 in front of a packed crowd at the Jock Colley Field. The local Spacemen players included in the Western Rams team were Sam Dwyer, Chad Porter, Jordo Pope and Brandon Tago.
Peter McDonald, Western Rams Rugby League Chairman said the fixture provided the country boys of the Western region a cherished opportunity to test their mettle against their international counterparts.
“To Chaddy, Sammy, Tago and Jordo, Ethan and the rest of the Rams boys, you made a whole region proud and gave many young kids something to dream about,” the
Parkes Spacemen committee said afterwards. “To play such a huge match in our back yard, and give a team loaded with professionals such a great game demonstrates the talent our region is producing.”
The Spacemen also thanked the people of Parkes and surrounds for making the event what it was. “A brilliant crowd for Wednesday night footy – it was a pleasure to host and something we’ll all remember.”
It was the sixth clash between France and a Western division team, and the second match played in Parkes. The previous game was played on 20th July 1955 at Pioneer Oval. The other matches took place in Forbes (1951), Dubbo (1960), Orange (1964) and Bathurst (1990).
Every major rugby league playing nation have played games in Parkes over the past decades. Great Britain played here in 1928, 1936 and 1966, and New Zealand in 1963.
By Maggi Barnard
Finnley Neilsen started playing rugby league when he was five, and last week the Year 11 Red Bend student was lost for words.
“I thought Dad was joking when he told me I was selected for the NSW team,” said the Parkes Marist junior player.
Since last October he’s been living for the sport he absolutely loves. He travels to Forbes every week for training, and quite often to Dubbo and Orange too after being selected to play for the Western Rams for the first time.
He then got into the Country team, which was already very special for the lock. But when he realised last week that his Dad was not joking about his first selection for the NSW team, he “was pretty excited”.
The squad was selected after Finnley played in the NSW Country Under-16s team against a Harold Matthews Representative team at Penrith Stadium on Friday, 17th May.
Finnley is the only player of the Country team selected for the squad. There are seven players from the premiership-winning Newcastle Knights team and four players from grand finalists Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.
Next Friday he will travel to the Homebush Centre of Excellence for two days of intensive training with the NSW 20-man squad, and on Sunday, 9th June the NSW Under 16s team will play a game against the Under 16s Pasifika team at Belmore Sports Ground.
The Pasifika is an international side with players from Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Samoa.
For Finnley this is the start of his big dream to play NRL one day.
By Maggi Barnard
While most students are enjoying the winter holiday, a 15-year-old Parkes boy has taken a big step in realising his dream of playing professional rugby league one day. Red Bend Catholic College student Finnley Neilsen was selected in the NSW CCC Country Rugby League U/15 side in May at the State Championships in St Marys.
This week Finnley and his team attended the famous heritage Edmund Rice Retreat at Mulgoa in Penrith from Monday for intensive training and playing. On Tuesday they travelled to play Canterbury Bankstown at Peter Moore Oval in Belmore, and on Thursday they played Illawarra at Wollongong.
Today, Friday the 13th, the highlight of the week takes place when the team plays Penrith in the curtain raiser for the Penrith vs Cronulla game at Penrith Park.
“Finnley was very excited to be selected in the team,” said his grandfather and big supporter, Ray Neilsen. He said friends and relatives from Parkes would be in the stands at Penrith Park to cheer him on today.
“We are all very proud of him,” said Ray.
While the week’s camp concludes tomorrow, Finnley will still not be taking a break during the second week of the holiday. He was invited by the Penrith Panthers to spend a week of training at their academy to further enhance his league career. The Academy is a $22 million state-of-the-art facility located behind Panthers Leagues Club in Penrith, and is a fulltime training and development facility for the Panthers’ senior and junior squads.
The Parkes Spacemen Rugby League Club had its first team on the field last weekend when the women’s leaguetag team joined 19 other sides in the Western Leaguetag challenge. With strong teams from Bathurst, Orange and Blayney, coupled with the loss of a large number of last year’s squad, the Spacecats were expected to make a modest showing.
They first defeated the Burrengong Bears 16-0, thanks to a scintillating debut from wizkid Tyannua Goolagong. From the famous Condobolin area football family, Goolagong will be a favourite at Pioneer Oval this year. Parkes then defeated a plucky Canowindra side, and registered a third win against the Portland Colts side. Rookie India Draper
showed outstanding skill and vision. Claire Barber dazzled the crowd with her toughness and finesse.
A final pool match against double challenge champions, Orange Cyms determined the semi-finalists. It was all Orange with 75% possession of the ball, but they could not crack the Spacecats’ line ending in a nil all draw and a standing ovation. The gutsy Cats went through to the finals meeting the 2016 champions. With 12 of the 15 Parkes players under 20, they probably weren’t expected to repel the slick combination of the Bathurst Pats. With 50 seconds remaining, Pats broke the Parkes line for the first time, resulting in a 6-0 victory.
By Kim Ryan
Parkes was running high on rugby league fever last Thursday when two Penrith Pan- thers players visited local schools as part of the NRL Community Carnival.
Tony Satini and Lachlan Stein visited six schools in the morning to talk about respect and diversity and in the afternoon they were at Cooke Park to meet fans, hand out autographs and pose for photos.
Many children brought shirts and caps to be signed, while the NRL also had post- ers with a team photo of the Panthers that the two players signed for the many fans who turned up. “It is really cool to meet the Panthers players in person,” said a young Parkes player.
The Parkes Marist Junior Rugby League club was also at the Park to sign up players for the year.
The morning sessions at the schools focused on the importance of respect, belonging and celebrating differences both on and off the field.
Game Development Officer – Western NSW, Alex Prout said there were many interesting questions from the students. There were also interactive games with students during the sessions.
The NRL Community Carnival takes players throughout Australia and New Zealand this month to meet fans in more than 80 communities.
Now in its 17th year, the NRL Community Carnival is supported by every NRL club and NRL Ambassadors, and will reach more than 250,000 kids, visit more than 1,000 schools, travel more than 40,000 km and host more than 80 Junior Rugby League clinics in both countries.
Interested players can contact Stuart Duff on 0429 891 716 at the Parkes Marist JRL.
By Maggi Barnard
The Parkes Spacecats scored a narrow one-point victory in extra time in the Group XI league tag grand final in Dubbo on Sunday. Playing on Dubbo CYMS’ homeground, it was a golden goal to Claire Barber that sealed the 13-12 win in the competition’s second year.
Two tries by Sally Dwyer and Ella-J Harris and two conversions by Claire Barber saw Parkes lead 12-10 at half time.
Parkes held tight through a second half stalemate, with CYMS kicking a penalty for the only two points of the half, levelling the score at 12-12 at full time.
The desperation of two periods of extra time saw the game become very physical, but the Spacecats held tight to their structure and made a lot of forward metres. Claire Barber found herself in front of the posts and surefooted the ball over for the one point field goal to win the match for Parkes. While admitting to being “terrified” in the lead up to the game, coach Michael Dumesny said that a quality final training session made him confident the girls would put
on a good display.
“They showed up in the right frame of mind on Sunday, so I knew they had it in them,” Michael said. “The difference was that we stood up to the task of the extra time pressure – we were on top of it.” Michael said Sally Dwyer was strong throughout the game, but on Sunday it was difficult to single out the best player from an outstanding team performance.
“Now that we’ve got the win, we’ll be able to really celebrate at presentation on Saturday!”
By Cindy Nutley
The Spacecats scored a vital 24 – 10 win over the Forbes Magpies on Sunday to secure a place in the Group XI Grand Final. It was a happy Father’s Day for the Spacecats as the last team to fly the Parkes banner high and proud as their drive for a spot in the final proved to be greater than rivals Forbes.
Forbes started the clock with a great kick and Parkes making great ground through five sets of hands to allow Demi Winter to put the first points on the board. Next points came from a successful penalty by Claire Barber to take Parkes’ lead to 6.
Forbes came back five and a half minutes before the break to level the scores, but was soon answered by Parkes scoring with under a minute remaining of the first half. In the second half Forbes scored the first points, but Captain Hannah Kelly put in a great kick that Forbes knocked on 5 metres from the try line. Spacecats made the most of the Magpies error and Shayna Male broke through the Forbes defence with Claire adding the extras to put Spacecats in an 18 – 10 lead.
A Magpies penalty allowed the Parkes tally to go up by another 4, and Claire, with another awesome strike took Parkes to 24. This last 6.5 minutes was the most physical a non contact sport can get with the Spacecats playing well until the sound of the full time bell.
Congratulations to 1.Claire Barber, 2.Brittney Ryan, 3.Sarah McAneney, 4.Hannah Kelly, 6.Ella-J Harris, 7.Sally Dwyer, 8.Demi Winter, 9.Katie Caldwell, 10.Sami Afele, 11.Emma Bayley, 12.Sam Cox, 13.Codie Wakefield, 14.Louise McAneney, 15.Nat Gardiner, 16.Emeline Lavaka, 17.Shayna Male, 20.Brittany Dumesny and Michael, Rock, Tim and Ricky.
Group XI Grand Final is on Sunday at Caltex Park in Dubbo. We need all the support we can get to cheer us on.
By Kim Ryan
The Parkes Spacecats will have to claim another win to make it to the grand final as they went down to the CYMS in Dubbo 7 – 4 last Sunday. In the opening ten minutes Parkes had a lot of ball and made CYMS work hard in
defence to put on an awesome display of a quick league tag match. First points of the game awarded to CYMS with three minutes to half time, so at drinks CYMS lead 6 – 0.
Halfway into the second half a wall of Spacecats disallowed CYMS a try. They could not break Parkes in defence and kicked a field goal for the 1, taking their lead to 7. With ten minutes remaining in the match, Spacecats trailed by 7 until Demi Winter intercepted a wild pass from CYMS to score, and that was where the score remained at full time: CYMS 7 Parkes 4.
Playing on the day were 1.Claire Barber, 2.Brittney Ryan, 3.Sarah McAneney, 4.Hannah Kelly, 6.Ella-J Harris, 7.Sally Dwyer, 8.Demi Winter, 9.Katie Caldwell, 10.Sami Afele, 11.Emma Bayley, 12.Sam Cox, 14.Louise McAneney, 16.Emeline Lavaka, 17.Shayna Male and 20.Brittany Dumesny.
On Sunday the Spacecats play the Forbes Magpies for the fifth time this season for a place in the grand final.
By Kim Ryan