CHAMPIONS: Mason Graham and Matt Laurie lift the Group 2 under-18s shield for the South Grafton Rebels.
CHAMPIONS: Mason Graham and Matt Laurie lift the Group 2 under-18s shield for the South Grafton Rebels.

Rebels fire in decider

SOUTH Grafton Rugby League Club can now proudly boast their first under-18s premiership.

The Rebels dominated Sawtell Panthers in yesterday's final, winning 36-8.

The red-and-whites were never headed in the final, as prop Austin Cooper destroyed the Panthers with three strong tries.

Ron Gordon struggled to find words to describe his emotions, as Rebels faithful congratulated the coach.

"I'm pumped, I'm stoked, I just don't know where to start," Gordon said.

"The boys have been ready all week and left everything out on the field."

Cooper was a phenomenal presence on the field, and often broke the line with his blinding speed.

Nick McGrady ran the show with DJ Gordon in the halves, as Mason Graham controlled the tempo from hooker.

Captain Matty Laurie was another in a full squad of standout performances, and you could see the pride he had in the Rebels jersey when he lifted the trophy.

"We knew when we got to the semis we could do it," Laurie said.

"When they beat us in the first semi we thought we could get them if we faced them in the grand final and that's what we did."

Tempers flared in a physical second half, as Sawtell lifted their intensity in an effort to upset the Rebels.

"They certainly lifted but our blokes did the same and we kept them at bay,"

Laurie said.

"Kept them at bay" is an understatement, as the Panthers were hit like a ton of bricks every time they met the Rebels defence.

It was as if the Rebels forwards prepared for the grand final by running into brick walls such was the force with which they hit Sawtell players.

You could tell the Rebels had something special in store as soon as they entered the field.

They ran with no respect for their bodies and

relentlessly exploited the Panthers whenever they saw half a chance.

Coupled with Cooper and fellow front-rower Keelan Gardoll's breathtaking runs, the Panthers had no chance against the monster effort.

Club president Ray Taunton was one of the happy few hundred who crushed the Rebels' players when the full-time siren sounded.

"The first one in 100 years, I can't believe it," Taunton said.

"It's a great sign for the club. If we can keep most of these players together they'll make one hell of a grade side in years to come."