Hunter Strong At Interbranch

A talented team of 40 Hunter athletes achieved their highest point score in recent memory last weekend at the 2016 NSW Interbranch Championships held at The Lakes SLSC, but it wasn’t enough to end their 12-year quest for a podium finish.

Hunter were in a commanding position heading into the final day of team events, however, Central Coast held on to take third spot while Hunter fell short of the podium by an agonising nine points.

This is the 12th consecutive year that Hunter finished in fourth place, but there is a silver lining. The junior talent coming through particularly at clubs such as Cooks Hill and Swansea Belmont suggests there are brighter days ahead.

“It’s hard fighting against Central Coast for third position being on their home beach, but we can be very happy with our efforts over the two days of events,” said Hunter Water Coach Shane Gibbs.

Meanwhile at the top of the point score, Sydney claimed pole position ending the two-year mortgage that Sydney Northern Beaches held on the trophy.

“The Sydney clubs are notoriously very strong so it’s good to see our young kids coming through at Interbranch level and to get a win in the team events is amazing,” Shane Gibbs said.

Hunter’s Open competitors lead by example with Allira Richardson (Cooks Hill) fighting hard against Central Coast’s Jemma Smith in the Open Ski and Ironwoman to finish second.

Justin McMorland (Redhead) narrowly beat Australian Board Champion and drafted team mate Stewart McLachlan (Manly) in the Open Board and placed third in the Open Ironman.

The string of good results continued for Hunter’s Open athletes with the experienced surf athletes comfortably winning gold in both Open Mixed Relay and the competition’s final event the Open Male Taplin Relay..

In the Youth events, Hunter crossed the line first in the Female Taplin while Amelia Ross (Redhead) also won gold in Ironwoman and finished a strong third in the Surf Race after being challenged on the run home. third.

Swansea Belmont’s Saxon Coates showed his class in the U14 Ironman and Surf Race and claimed first and second respectively.

On the sand, Fingal Beach’s sole Branch competitor, Grace Hewitt was outstanding and had too much speed in the U13 Beach Sprint to win gold, and almost made it a double when she finished second in a very close Flags final.

After finishing in fourth spot yet again, Water Coach Shane Gibbs could be forgiven for believing in the curse of the Interbranch but he is quietly confident that it’s only a matter of time until Hunter is once more standing on the podium at this high quality representative fixture.

“We’re really happy with how things have played out this weekend and the kids all fought till the finished line so we can’t ask for much else,” Shane Gibbs said.

“We have some champions of the sport in our team and as mentors the kids thoroughly enjoy having them around and they listen to every bit of advice.”

The 2017 NSW Interbranch Championships will be held at Stockton SLSC on 9 and 10 December which was announced at the presentation ceremony on Sunday afternoon.

Full list of results and photos at www.surflifesaving.com.au/interbranch.

Photo: Open Hunter athletes Stewart McLachlan and Justin McMorland.

Tue 13 Dec 2016