Week to week throughout the 2023 season, the Parkes Boars struggled to get all grades on the field. Yet despite heading into the finals as the underdogs, the Boars took the honours from the fancied Mudgee Wombats last weekend.
Led by their Captain, and possibly the hardest working man in New Holland Cup rugby, Ben Ryan, the team streamed onto the Glen Willow rugby pitch.
Mudgee took the first points of the game after the Boars were penalised on the 15m line. But the conversion was spread wide.
Return of play saw Boars gifted a penalty attempt on the 22m in front, with Luke Bevan putting the Boars on the scoreboard.
The players settled, and the Boars gathered a pod and worked the ball down the field with a well executed pick and drive to within 10m. The ball was passed to Soropepeli Soqe, who scored next to the posts. Luke Bevan added the extras and the Boars took the lead 10 points to five.
The second half saw a lift in both sides but Boars Luke Bevan found a small gap in the Mudgee defence and put the ball over for a try, following with a successful conversion.
Mudgee found their rhythm and crossed the line twice to chase the Boars down, evening the scores at 17 a piece. Discipline let Mudgee down, and at the 57 minute mark, Luke Bevan was gifted another shot putting the Boars in front by three points.
With seven minutes left in the match, another penalty was awarded to Parkes, Bevan took the shot and scored the three points.
Moments before regular time was up Mudgee found a gap running on the wing and added another seven points to the tally, taking the score to Mudgee 24 to Parkes 23.
The Mudgee crowds went wild, but from somewhere deep, the Boars held tight and kept their discipline, focused on their own game and worked the ball down to within 15m. Mudgee couldn’t help but take that step too far and on the fourth minute of injury time, Luke Bevan took the penalty kick of his life right in front of goals, to give the Boars a two point lead and the win. The final score was Parkes 26 to Mudgee 24.
This was a record breaking match for the Boars, being the fourth Championship in as many years.
The whole team worked harder than ever for this honour and it was difficult to single out any individual player. The front row Jason Lowe, Rory Nock and Lewis Gravatt, although monstered by a much bigger pack, held their own making tackle after tackle to disrupt the Wombats flow.
Chris Parker and Mitchell Westcott as flankers kept running all game, Mackenzie Green and Jacob Hardy in the second row put in the hard yards to keep the forward momentum.
The whole forward pack was locked together by their Captain Ben Ryan both physically and emotionally.
Callum Reed in half back, Will Bevan and Mick Watt on the wings were well supported by Tupou Verti, Soropepeli Soqe and Mesake Kurukitoga.
Congratulations to the finishers, Dylan Hood, Jackson Guy, Rohan Kopp, Dyllan Philips, Tom Woods, Will Woods, Will Smith and Uraia “Junior” Sartibau.
A massive thank you is extended to team Manager Brendan Guy, Club President Kev Oliver and the families, friends and fellow Boars who came and supported the team throughout the year.