Run for Catholic and state schools, the event is named after Steve Simpson, a Singleton-born boy who retired from the NRL in 2010 after succumbing to a chronic knee injury. During his career, Simpson played for the Newcastle Knights, NSW in State of Origin and a number of Test Matches for Australia.
Hosted by the NRL at Cooke Oval in Singleton, the event – held on 13 March – is for Stage 3 boys and girls aged between 10 and 12.
In fantastic weather, the St Patrick’s team got off to an incredible start with a comprehensive win against Morpeth Public School.
In the second round, the school went up against Singleton King Street Public School where the score was kept even for most of the match before King Street managed to grab a narrow win.
With lollies devoured between matches to keep the students energised, the team’s third match was a must-win as they versed St Patrick’s Primary School, Lochinvar. Though the game was tied at half time with each team having scored two tries, the superior ball-handling skills, incredible fitness and amazing resilience of the Cessnock team shone through to give them a win over Lochinvar.
Cessnock’s next opponent was Muswellbrook South Public School who they again defeated thanks to their barging forwards and the speed of their players who zipped through the opposition.
The team’s final match saw them play against Metford Public School. Though Metford hadn’t won a game all day, it seemed excessive lolly consumption may have hindered the team’s performance as the match ended in a draw.
“I cannot begin to say how proud I was of our marvellous team of champions,” said Michael McKenzie, teacher and librarian St Patrick’s.
“The experience of playing in the Steve Simpson Shield was a great boost to our confidence and we look forward to taking part again next year.”