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Sport

26 June, 2023

Gladiators U18s sharpen swords for 2023 season

A HISTORIC season last year saw the first Mareeba Gladiators U18s side in 25 years make the FNQ Rugby League finals but they painfully fell just short, however the team of young guns is back on the warpath and is keenly eyeing off a premiership this season.

By Rhys Thomas

Mareeba Gladiators U18 vice-captain Reece Boyle and captain Tyrone Williams will take another shot at the premiership this season.
Mareeba Gladiators U18 vice-captain Reece Boyle and captain Tyrone Williams will take another shot at the premiership this season.

A HISTORIC season last year saw the first Mareeba Gladiators U18s side in 25 years make the FNQ Rugby League finals but they painfully fell just short, however the team of young guns is back on the warpath and is keenly eyeing off a premiership this season.

In a true battle, the U18s fought tooth and nail last season to claw their way up to a finals appearance and after beating out the then first place Atherton Roosters side just two weeks before, Mareeba faced Ivanhoes in an elimination semi-final but despite their best efforts, the team lost 36-10.

With the taste of defeat still bitter in their mouths, the boys steeled themselves for next season and vowed to return to the stage and leave as victors.

Out of seven games played this season, Mareeba has won five with the only loss and draw coming at the hands of the Kangaroos.

The young side is captained by Tyrone Williams and Reece Boyle, both of whom have proven to be indispensable cogs in the well-oiled U18s machine.

Both players retained their leadership roles from last season and continued the team’s journey of domination this year, beating out some of the competition by incredible margins of nearly 50 points.

Williams said coming so close to winning the premiership last season but just falling short left a sour taste in his mouth and in the mouths of his friends and teammates.

“A couple of players are missing to A-grade so the boys had to pick up the slack and now we are one of the top teams and in contention for finals,” he said.

“We can still go a long way with this team, we can do better in some things and fix some stuff but we can go a long way in this competition.”

Many of the players in the current side spent most of their junior years playing with each other and have formed close bonds that carry out onto the field.

Boyle believes this bond has proven to be the crucial factor in many games and pushed the team to go above and beyond.

“The atmosphere is good, all the boys are there for each other, we respect each other, and we put in the work and get the job done,” he said.

“Our resilience has been a key part of our game this year, we don’t get down and we bump our intensity and effort – we fight tooth and nail.”

Williams and Boyle said without the support of the coaches, Shaun Fincham and Grant Hanlon, as well as other supporters and the wider club, they would not be playing as well as they have been.

Over the weekend, the boys absolutely dominated against Brothers Innisfail, winning 24 to 14 on home soil.

They will hopefully bring their winning streak to their next game on Sunday against Southern Suburbs.  

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