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They may have been sporting unique swimwear in support of a much loved former teammate but it was there eye-catching performances in the surf and on the sand that made the Hunter athletes hard to miss at last weekend’s Interbranch Championships.

After 15 years of near misses the Hunter Surf Life Saving Interbranch team finally ended their podium hoodoo in 2017, and thanks to a combination of exciting youth and experienced competitors they managed to repeat the performance at Black Head finishing third overall.

The 1055 points they totalled throughout the two-day-competition was enough to see off fierce rivals Central Coast and trail only Sydney and Sydney Northern Beaches in the overall standings.

Redhead’s Daniel Collins performed strongly to claim silver in the Open Board Race and Ironman while club-mate Nicola Owen also finished with a pair of second place finishes in the Open Female Water events.

For Collins, who won the NSW Ironman Open Title last March, it was a special competition and he was touched by his Hunter teammates showing their support for his sister Jessica who is still recovering after suffering a serious neck injury earlier this year.

In an amazing gesture the entire team sported swimmers covered in giant sunflowers which the former representative surf lifesavers’ favourite flower and the Surf Life Saving community fundraising and spreading cheer have been a constant source of support for the entire Collins family.

One Hunter athlete who tore up the sand was Kieran Gordon who blitzed the field to take out the Open Male Sprint/Flag double.

Gordon who cut his teeth at his junior club Merewether before moving north to Queensland for work was eligible to represent his hometown by virtue of the Branch of Origin selection rule.

“It’s the second year I’ve been asked to come back and represent Hunter as a Branch of Origin competitor which I’m more than happy to do. It’s a great team atmosphere.

“They say Interbranch is like a state final every race, and that’s pretty accurate and on the beach there’s not much time between races,” Gordon said.

In the team events Hunter athletes backed up last year’s win in the U15 Cameron Relay and also took out the U13 Cameron and the Youth Male Taplin relay to send a clear message to their rival branches.

With Interbranch now done and dusted for another season Hunter athletes can now relax before ramping up their preparations for the 2019 NSW Surf Life Saving Championships which will staged in the familiar waters of Swansea’s Blacksmiths Beach.

Overall Pointscore

  • Sydney Northern Beaches 1198

  • Sydney 1185

  • Hunter 1055

  • Central Coast 1000

  • Far North Coast 834

  • Illawarra 722

  • South Coast 675

  • Mid North Coast 545

  • North Coast 467

  • Far South Coast 311

  • Lower North Coast 267

Wednesday 12 December 2018