Kempsey Dragons breathing down Sawtell necks for league dominance

KEMPSEY'S junior rugby league finalists will aim to surpass the success of their Mustangs counterparts on home soil tomorrow.

For the Dragons under-12s, 13s and 14s sides is the opportunity to conclude their respective seasons with grand finals wins and earn a hat-trick of trophies at the Verge St Oval .

Standing in their way in each of the three encounters will be the Group 2 Junior Rugby League's dominant force Sawtell.

The visitors' under-12 team dominated their league and are minor premiers, but the Dragons' under-13s and 14s are the respective minor premiers of their leagues.

Owen 'Buddy' Blair tasted success last weekend as the coach of the Macleay Valley Mustangs under-18s side.

On a personal level, he is bidding for his fourth successive juniors title. Having guided Smithtown to glory in 2009, he switched to the Dragons with instant success the following year for the under-13s.

With the same group of boys, he brought the minor premiership title in the under-14s competition last year.

Blair is assisted by manager Tony Gleeson and Jason McKernan.

The 2012 under-13s are coached by another Mustangs grand finalist, Alan Lockwood, who played in the reserve grade's nailbiting loss to Macksville.

He is aiming to lead his young charges to his fourth successive juniors title and the club has been indebted to him for the time he has devoted to the team.

"This weekend sees a big finish to the season, with the boys playing  Sawtell in front of our home crowd," Lockwood said.

"The last time we met was at their home ground in the major semi, and the boys came away with a convincing result, but the boys are all primed for the game and know that anything can happen in the grand final.

"All they have to do is stick to our game plan and not panic."

The under-12s are coached by Darren Holten and managed by his wife Marsha.

Dragons publicity officer said the club boasted a wealth of young talent, with Darren Holten junior having landed a trial with the Canterbury Bulldogs and Joseph Gardiner has been selected for an Australian under-18s AIS side to tour England, Wales and France.

Swan paid tribute to the Dragons committee members for their commitment and efforts for the club and several individuals in particular.

"We would be lost without June and Alec Reilly," she said. 

"They have been a great help and guidance, as has Bob Smith."

Swan also thanked the club's sponsors for their support.

The under-12s match will kick off at 10.45am, followed by the under-13s at 11.45am, and the under-14s at 12.55pm.

The Dragons committee has asked for volunteers to help with the hosting arrangements tomorrow. Anyone willing to assist can contact June at the canteen, Alison Swan, or other committee members.

Admission for the grand final is free to kids under 16 years and $3 for everyone else.

There will be raffles throughout the day, with a signed Johnny Raper jersey the star prize to be drawn during half-time of the under-16s final between Coffs Harbour and Bowraville. That match has a 3.30pm kick-off.

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