Rebel captain Rhys Walters holds up the trophy after winning the Group 2 Country Rugby League 1st Grade grand final between South Grafton Rebels and Coffs Comets at McKittrick Park South Grafton on Sunday 23 August, 2015. Final score Rebels way 46-18. Photo Debrah Novak / The Daily Examiner
Rebel captain Rhys Walters holds up the trophy after winning the Group 2 Country Rugby League 1st Grade grand final between South Grafton Rebels and Coffs Comets at McKittrick Park South Grafton on Sunday 23 August, 2015. Final score Rebels way 46-18. Photo Debrah Novak / The Daily Examiner

EXCLUSIVE: Top 10 Clarence sporting moments of the decade

AS THE 2010s draw to a close we decided to look back on some of the best moments in Clarence Valley sport from the past decade.

With no shortage of glory, controversy, heartache and elation, it has been quite a ride over the last 10 years. Did we get the top 10 right? Let us know in the comments if we missed any memorable moments.

 

10. Royals complete fairytale grand final win over Bears

 

Jack Taylor(Royals) James Wilks(Bears)
Jack Taylor(Royals) James Wilks(Bears)

 

TO SAY Royals Clocktower Hotel were the clear underdogs against the defending premiers City Bears B&S Kitchens in the 2015 grand final would be an understatement.

Masterfully led by captain/coach and Australian over-35 representative Matt Lobsey, Royals were 2-1 ahead before Bears found an equaliser with 12 seconds of regular time to go.

The game was tied up and headed into drop-off extra time between the two sworn enemies.

As the clock ticked away and the teams were reduced to seven men each, Lobsey worked his magic to weave his way through the tiring Bears defence and hand it off to Jack Taylor for the golden goal winner.

The two sides left the field after the behemoth battle having just played one of the best grand finals in Grafton Hockey Association history.

Bears have gone on to reassert their name as the regions most dominant mens side but Royals still enjoy the odd tussle with their enemies and could pose another threat to them in 2020.

 

9. Clarence River rise to take Country Shield in Tamworth

 

Country shield final winners, Photo: Geoff O'Neill 30-12-14
Country shield final winners, Photo: Geoff O'Neill 30-12-14

 

THE Clarence River Cricket Association tasted a success like no other in 2014 when they lifted the Country Shield in Tamworth.

Veteran all-rounder Matt Pigg led from the front during the CRCA's successful campaign blasting 72 from 63 deliveries and backing up with four wickets as CRCA

downed Robertson Burrawang in the shield final on No. 1 Sportsground.

The previous day his 46 out of a total of 136 on a rain-affected wicket gave his team the edge on Albury Wodonga Colts who only made 73 in the run chase.

CRCA skipper Bob McKenzie said the semi-final could have gone either way after he lost the toss and his side was sent in.

But the team of young and experienced stars unmatched.

One of the highlights for Clarence River late in the match was a classic catch on the boundary right in front of the grandstand by back-pedalling former CRCA president Tom Kroehnert.

 

8. Rebels break 40-year premiership drought against Coffs Harbour

 

Rebel captain Rhys Walters holds up the trophy after winning the Group 2 Country Rugby League 1st Grade grand final between South Grafton Rebels and Coffs Comets at McKittrick Park South Grafton on Sunday 23 August, 2015. Final score Rebels way 46-18. Photo Debrah Novak / The Daily Examiner
Rebel captain Rhys Walters holds up the trophy after winning the Group 2 Country Rugby League 1st Grade grand final between South Grafton Rebels and Coffs Comets at McKittrick Park South Grafton on Sunday 23 August, 2015. Final score Rebels way 46-18. Photo Debrah Novak / The Daily Examiner

 

2015 WAS a big year for Clarence Valley sport and after the CRCA's cricket triumph, it was the South Grafton Rebels turn to make history.

Living in the shadow of their overachieving rivals Grafton Ghosts, the Rebels needed to step up after a number of years around the mark and coach Dallas Waters was just the right man for the job.

Battling their way through the finals, the Rebels' hopes, dreams and determination paid off as they took it to the Coffs Harbour Comets to claim a barnstorming 46-18 win at McKittrick Park.

Led by star centre Hughie Stanley, the rampant Rebels ran riot against the Comets and once they got a whiff of victory, there was no turning back.

Since then, South Grafton have been consistently sitting around the top four and they looked to mount a similar challenge before their season was cut short in 2019.

With premiership winner Roy Ball at the helm in 2020, the Rebels could once again challenge at the top of the Group 2 ladder.

 

7. Chard chosen for under-19 Australian side cricket tour

 

Premier league cricket match between Coutts Crossing and Souths Services at Ellem Oval on Saturday. Bowling for Coutts is Brad Chard. Photo Debrah Novak / The Daily Examiner
Premier league cricket match between Coutts Crossing and Souths Services at Ellem Oval on Saturday. Bowling for Coutts is Brad Chard. Photo Debrah Novak / The Daily Examiner

 

FOR The Clarence Valley's Brad Chard, being selected in the Australian under-19 side to tour India was a dream come true.

But on the eve of his departure for a one-day series in India, the Coutts Crossing fast bowler appeared a little nervous.

You see, in the back of Chard's mind he knew a 15-hour flight from Sydney to Dubai awaited him.

And at 188cm the lanky left-arm quick might be crying out for some extra leg-room.

"We fly out of Sydney on Thursday night for Dubai and I'm starting to get a bit nervous," Chard revealed before jetting off. "The longest flight I've been on is to Tasmania and Darwin so it will be interesting sitting on a plane for 15 hours."

While Chard failed to cement a spot in the Australian international side, the left-arm quick bowler can still be seen turing it on with some signature bowling and top batting for Tucabia-Copmanhurst GI Hotel in the Clarence Valley Cricket Association's GDSC Premier League competition.

 

6. Ghosts win history making third Clayton Cup

 

The Grafton Ghosts celebrate a final try that sealed their Group 2 2017 grand final over the South Grafton Rebels.
The Grafton Ghosts celebrate a final try that sealed their Group 2 2017 grand final over the South Grafton Rebels.

 

THE Grafton Ghosts capped off a perfect season with the club in 2017 by securing the highest accolade a team can win in Country Rugby League, the Clayton Cup.

The Ghosts entered esteemed company after they became only the fourth club in the 80-year history of the cup to win three times, with the win joining their back-to-back triumphs in 2010 and 2011.

Accepting the award at Country Rugby League's annual awards night in Sydney in front of National Rugby League commissioner John Grant and CEO Todd Greenberg, Ghosts president Joe Kinnane said he was proud of the efforts of everyone involved with the club.

The Grafton Ghosts finished ahead of Cooma, Port City Breakers and Gilgandra who were also nominated for the award.

Their Clayton Cup win followed on from the Ghosts' undefeated run throughout the Group 2 season, which culminated in their 32-12 grand final win against the South Grafton Rebels.

Could they claim another?

 

5. Wicks makes NRL return with Parramatta Eels

 

Eels player Danny Wicks reacts during the Round 20 NRL match between the Gold Coast Titans and the Parramatta Eels at CBUS Stadium on the Gold Coast, Saturday, June 23, 2016. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Eels player Danny Wicks reacts during the Round 20 NRL match between the Gold Coast Titans and the Parramatta Eels at CBUS Stadium on the Gold Coast, Saturday, June 23, 2016. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

 

DANNY Wicks burst back onto the NRL scene with an eye-catching display off the bench for the beaten Parramatta Eels in 2015.

The return marked a turning point for the Grafton star after battling his way back from a difficult spell.

In a night largely to forget for Parramatta, who lost 32-12 to the Bulldogs, it was a performance to savour from Wicks. The slimmed-down prop made 16 tackles and carried the ball strongly 15 times for 147 metres - second highest for the Eels.

Wicks had waited five long years to come back to the NRL and was forced to wait a little longer with Eels coach Brad Arthur repeatedly forced to change tactics and twice had Wicks on the sideline with the interchange card in his hand before being held back.

Wicks, 29, was finally released onto ANZ Stadium 10 minutes before halftime.

Wicks went on to play several games with the Eels before he announced a shock return to the Grafton Ghosts where he captain-coached the club to two titles.

 

4. Anthony Don becomes Gold Coast Titans' top tryscorer

 

Former Grafton Ghosts flyer Anthony Don scores a try for the Gold Coast Titans during the round 10 NRL upset against the Melbourne Storm at Suncorp Stadium.
Former Grafton Ghosts flyer Anthony Don scores a try for the Gold Coast Titans during the round 10 NRL upset against the Melbourne Storm at Suncorp Stadium.

 

HE IS the Gold Coast Titans' cult hero, and former Grafton Ghosts flyer Anthony Don became the club's all-time leading tryscorer in 2018.

The winger affectionately known as "The Don" hadbeen in rarefied form that season, and joined former Titans finisher David Mead as leading tryscorer for the club with 67 when he touched down against Manly, before going on to add eight more to reach his current total of 75.

2018 was also his best season in terms of scoring, with the winger scoring 15 times from 23 appearances.

Don's fine form continued in 2019 with the Burleigh Bears as they made it into the NRL grand final curtain-raising Intrust Super Cup where they fell to the Newtown Jets in the closing moments of the game despite a double from Don himself.

Now looking forward to another season with the Titans, Don will hope his tryscoring ability can lift Gold Coast off the bottom of the NRL heap and into finals contention.

At 32, Don is nearing his curtain call but he still has plenty to offer.

 

3. Sullohern runs with pride at Commonwealth Games

 

Celia Sullohern (left) and Eloise Wellings of Australia compete in the Women's 5000m Final on day ten of the XXI Commonwealth Games, at Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast, Australia, Saturday, April 14, 2018. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)
Celia Sullohern (left) and Eloise Wellings of Australia compete in the Women's 5000m Final on day ten of the XXI Commonwealth Games, at Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast, Australia, Saturday, April 14, 2018. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

 

THE Clarence Valley has produced some fine long-distance runners over the years but Celia Sullohern is by far one of the best to come from the region.

Sullohern qualified for the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018 and did her country proud with a top effort.

While Sullohern recorded an impressive fifth-place finish in the women's 5000m track final, it was an act of sportsmanship during the 10,000m that caught the eye.

Proving just why she earnt the right to represent the green and gold, Sullohern and her fellow Australian teammates waited for the final competitor to cross the line, attracting international attention.

The performance also put Sullohern in the running for the Sportsperson of the Year Award which she won for the second consecutive year in a row in 2018.

The world class runner has since been involved with several coaching clinics that have allowed her to give back to the community that had supported her over the years.

 

 

2. Shelton's Belflyer wins The Kosciuszko

 

Jockey Ben Looker rides Belflyer to victory in race 6, the Caloundra Automotive Open Handicap, during the James Ackerman Memorial Raceday at the Sunshine Coast Turf Club on the Sunshine Coast, Saturday, November 10, 2018. (AAP Image/Trackside Photography, Grant Peters)
Jockey Ben Looker rides Belflyer to victory in race 6, the Caloundra Automotive Open Handicap, during the James Ackerman Memorial Raceday at the Sunshine Coast Turf Club on the Sunshine Coast, Saturday, November 10, 2018. (AAP Image/Trackside Photography, Grant Peters)

 

BELFLYER'S win in the inaugural $1.3 million 2018 The Kosciuszko was the best thing to happen to Grafton racing since Kensei claimed the 1987 Grafton-Melbourne Cup double, according

to racing boss Michael Beattie.

The John Shelton-trained gelding delivered the local veteran his greatest thrill in a 40-year training career when he ran over the top of the field to win by half a length.

It was a premier ride from former apprentice Adam Hyeronimus, who settled the gelding well despite getting the better of the field from the barrier.

Beattie said the win for Belflyer was extra special because it came in the inaugural running of The Koscisuzko.

"It certainly is as big as Kensei winning the Melbourne Cup," he said. "I am extremely proud because I believe it goes to show we provide a great facility for local trainers and their thoroughbreds."

Shelton's Belflyer was back for the second edition of the race this year, as well as stablemate Tarbert, and while the pair fell short, more success is sure to come for Shelton.

 

1. Yamba's Urquhart and Pilley win mixed doubles Commonwealth Games gold

Gold medalist Donna Urquhart (left) and Cameron Pilley of Australia during the medal ceremony for the Mixed Doubles Gold Medal Squash Match on day ten of competition at the XXI Commonwealth Games at the Oxenford Studios on the Gold Coast, Australia, Saturday, April 14, 2018. (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)
Gold medalist Donna Urquhart (left) and Cameron Pilley of Australia during the medal ceremony for the Mixed Doubles Gold Medal Squash Match on day ten of competition at the XXI Commonwealth Games at the Oxenford Studios on the Gold Coast, Australia, Saturday, April 14, 2018. (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)

 

THEY already shared family, a home town and their childhoods - but last year cousins Donna Urquhart and Cameron Pilley shared a mixed doubles squash title at the Commonwealth Games.

Urquhart and Pilley won gold after defeating Indian pair Dipika Pallikal Karthik and Saurav Ghosal on the Gold Coast.

Both a product of Yamba's nursery of athletes, the Australian duo grew up together but began dreaming of sharing a home gold only after competing as a doubles pairing in 2017.

Dozens of friends and family travelled up for the Games, and Pilley also had a group of 10 in-laws fly from his wife's home in Denmark as part of a capacity Oxenford Studios crowd.

It was the third Commonwealth gold of his career, having won doubles in Delhi and Glasgow.

The pair have been dominant on the squash circuit for years, with both holding consistent spots in the world top-twenty over the past ten years.

 

After the cream of the Clarence rose to the top last decade, there are plenty of promising stars ready to put their names in the history books in the 2020s.