The Wauchope High team travelled to Sydney last week to contest the 43rd Cumberland visit for the right to hold the Parsons Memorial Shield.
After three excellent days of competition, Wauchope were once again successful in their quest, retaining the shield with a resounding 36-18 victory over their city counterparts.
This year’s visit saw a number of firsts, as the competition continues to evolve in its format. Cumberland are no longer able to field teams in either Junior or Senior Rugby League, and they no longer hold School Socials, so a number of changes were implemented to fill the void.
A night of Futsal (indoor Soccer) replaced the Social and was an overwhelming success, as the fast-paced action across the four games kept the players and the crowd on the edge of their seats throughout the evening.
A game of Open Boys Netball became the final match of the visit and this also kept the crowd highly entertained, as the two teams were very competitive and produced a great spectacle.
This was also the smallest team that Wauchope has ever fielded with 79 students making the trip, 47 girls and only 32 boys.
On the first day of competition, Wauchope got away to the perfect start, dominating the Open Girls and Boys Touch games 17-0 and 13-2 respectively. Wauchope also secured wins in the Mock Trial 226-218 and Junior Girls Netball 36-18.
This took the two teams into the night events, where Wauchope also dominated the Boys and Girls Volleyball two sets to one in each match.
Cumberland are traditionally strong at Basketball and managed to win the Junior Boys game 41-22, Junior Girls 14-7 and Open Girls 11-10 in a nail-biter. However, Wauchope staged a coup in taking the much coveted Open Boys game 32-18.
This was the first time in five years that Wauchope has won this particular game, which made the victory even sweeter, and at the end of Day One the overall score was 14-6 in favour of Wauchope.
A glorious sunny day greeted competitors on Day Two of competition, with Cumberland opening their account early due to a thrilling 1-0 win in the Open Girls Hockey and a comprehensive 6-0 victory in the Junior Boys Soccer.
However, Wauchope stormed back.
With a terrific team effort in the Boys and Girls Athletics, they won both of them 263-202 and 276-177.
The Open Girls Soccer team struggled to find the back of the net, but were never really challenged in a 2-0 victory, while the Open Boys nearly pulled off a stunning victory against their more fancied rivals.
A Reece Anderson strike in the fifth minute put Wauchope ahead for the majority of the game, but Cumberland managed an equaliser with only three minutes remaining. The Open Girls Netball team produced a beautiful team effort and an attractive brand of Netball to continue their winning streak against Cumberland in a 47-23 demolition.
The Futsal night was played out at a frantic pace. The Junior Girls began proceedings with a 4-2 victory, but the Junior Boys were outclassed by their skilful opponents to go down 7-3.
The Wauchope Open Girls, with a wealth of experience, were expected to completely dominate their game, but this turned out to be the match of the evening. An outstanding keeping performance by the Cumberland goalie kept the score at 1-all going into the final minute. With seconds remaining, Rhianna Thompson found herself in space and took the ball towards the goal, looking for the final shot.
One of the Cumberland defenders attempted to tackle her and clear the ball, but instead booted the ball past her own keeper for an own goal, which handed Wauchope an incredible 2-1 win with two seconds to go. The reaction of both crowds was sheer pandemonium; heartbreak for a valiant Cumberland, delight and relief for the favourites Wauchope.
The final game of the night was the Open Boys and this was another cliffhanger, with Wauchope staging an amazing comeback to salvage a 3-all draw after trailing 3-1 going into the final third, thanks to the efforts of Andrew Thomas in attack and Tylee Donovan in defence.
The draw was an important result, as it took the overall score to 28-14 at the end of Day Two, meaning that Wauchope had already clinched the shield.
Day Three began with the Junior Girls Touch team playing superbly to score a 6-0 win and then the Junior Boys Touch played one of the best games of the visit against an evenly-matched Cumberland side. It was some amazing last-ditch defence from Kade McKenna, Wayde Coombes and Jemel Blair that allowed Wauchope to escape with a narrow 5-4 victory.
The Wauchope Open Girls Tennis team also secured a 4-2 win, but Cumberland won the Open Boys 4-1, and then they were also victorious in the Open Girls Softball 4-2.
This left the final match to be the Open Boys Netball, which appeared to be going the way of Cumberland, as they led by as many as seven goals in the middle of the game. However, the Wauchope team refused to give up, and managed to eventually take the game 25-11, on the back of great defence from Owen McKittrick and attack by Josh Jones and Reece Anderson.
The final winning margin was 36-18, which gave Captains Owen McKittrick and Monique Copelin the opportunity to hold the Parsons Shield aloft for the fourth consecutive year, finally breaking the parallel that has existed between this competition and the State of Origin series over the past 13 years.
The Most Valuable Team Members for Wauchope were Tylee Donovan and Charlotte Wilton, with Peter Lee and Ljubica Momcilovic, who was in thirteen teams, the best for Cumberland.
The two schools would like to thank the Parsons family for their ongoing support of this event, and the Wauchope students would like to thank the Cumberland families for their amazing hospitality in billeting them for two nights.
Some great friendships were again forged, and new rivalries sparked, which is of course what makes this visit such an important part of the school and town’s psyche, and the reason we hope for it to continue for many years to come.