THE development of goalkeeper Kane Runge and a much-needed injection of experience has helped back-to-back NNSW NPL wooden spooners Weston take out the second annual Heritage Cup.
The Bears defeated inaugural winners Adamstown on penalties in the grand final on Sunday at Jack McLaughlan Oval after they finished at 0-0 in regular time.
Runge was the hero for Weston, diving low to his left to deny Matt Sokulsky before Thomas Carias-Cox was wide with Adamstown’s next shot. The Bears converted four from four to take the Cup, which was a nine-team tournament featuring clubs with more than 100 years of unbroken history.
Weston coach Steve Piggott said Runge had returned from the Newcastle Jets Youth a better player.
“He spent the last five months at the Jets and the last month with the first team under Glen Moss and [coach] Chris Bowling, so he’s getting guidance and improving,” Piggott said. “It all bodes well for us. He’s still young and a bit naive but he’s definitely gone up a level.”
Midfielder Josh Maguire, who has come to Weston from Charlestown, received the inaugural Col Curran Medal for player of the final.
Piggott said young centre-back Jordan Jackson was his side’s best player over the three-day tournament.
Former Dutch international Kew Jaliens made his competitive debut for Weston on Sunday but sustained an ankle injury. Brock Oakley, Regan Lundy and Tega Adjeke were other casualties for the Bears, who start the NPL at Maitland next weekend.
“The experience we’ve got now with [Nathan] Morris, [Jamie] Subat, Maguire and Jaliens, that has helped our younger blokes and probably evened the keel up again football-wise,” Piggott said.