NEWCASTLE Rugby League player of the year Ryan Walker inspired Newcastle Yowies to a 22-8 triumph against Griffith Three Ways in the final of the Koori Knockout at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday.
The Yowies’ fourth victory in the 47-year-old annual event means they have earned the right to host next year’s tournament.
Walker scored two tries in the decider against opposition who included Cronulla’s Test prop Andrew Fifita and former Wests Tigers and North Queensland playmaker Robert Lui. The Yowies’ line-up featured former international Timana Tahu and Canterbury winger Brenko Lee, but Walker stole the show with a try in each half.
“We just showed what a quality side we are and how much hard work we actually put in,” Walker said after the game. “It’s not easy to get a knockout win. It takes a lot of hard work and it took all 25 of us this week.”
The Yowies beat Newcastle All Blacks 20-8 in the semi-final, after wins against Lapa Bummers (36-0), La Perouse Panthers (12-0), Cabbage Tree Island (18-16) and Bourke Warriors (24-4).
Their under-15 team, coached by Owen Craigie, also finished as champions.