A last minute heartbreaking loss to the Port Macquarie Pirates in the major semi-final will be the fuel which lights the fire for the Kempsey Cannonballs Under-16s when they tackle the minor premiers in the grand final this Saturday.
The Cannonballs were seconds away from booking their place in the decider a fortnight ago, but a mistake in the final minute resulted in a Pirates try and a two-point defeat.
Kempsey proved their resilience when they fought back from a six-point deficit in the final three minutes against the Coffs Harbour Snappers in an elimination final last Saturday.
Blake Saunders dove over in the corner to reduce the deficit before Darby Lancaster slotted the conversion from the sideline to claim victory and send his team to the grand final.
The Cannonballs will search for redemption when they take on the Pirates in the decider and co-coach Matt Shannon, who is in charge of the team alongside Mark Saunders and Jason Mainey, claims Kempsey have proven they have what it takes to earn the win.
"There's a lot of talent in the team, it's really hard for us as coaches to make substitutions because everyone is so good," Shannon said.
"They all have a strong desire to win and play with all they have.
"In the major semi, I believe we dominated Port but it was one of those games where things came undone at the end."
Shannon admits his side will need to be firm in defence to come out on top.
"They have a really strong forward pack and we will need to muscle up to them," Shannon said.
"We are expecting a very close game and it will come down to the wire."
The Cannonballs Under-16s take on the Pirates at 9.40am at Oxley Oval in Port Macquarie.
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