COACH Blake Creighton hopes the Newcastle colts players are rewarded for their spirit and determination with a strong representation in the NSW Country under-19 side to be named later this week.
Newcastle overcame adversity to hold out Central Coast 9-3 in a tense Country Championship final to successfully defend their crown.
"You'd like to think we will supply a large number to the Country squad, but that is not always the case," Creighton said. "A lot of the time, teams that get done by 20 or 30 points have two stand out guys, who get the nod."
Nelson Bay lock Jordan Byfield was Newcastle's best player on a 1-2-3 voting system and Uni centre Brady Mather was players' player.
"Both awards were pretty tightly contested," Creighton said. "There wasn't really a stand out player, which is what you want as a team."
Newcastle lost three players to injury in the final and finished with back-rower Ben Dyson playing at inside centre.
"The boys did well," Creighton said. "A few of them got thrown into foreign positions and toughed it out."
On Saturday, Jordan Byfield scored with two minutes remain to snatch a 12-11 win over Illawarra. They thrashed Mid North Coast 50-0 in the opening game.
"It was a different carnival for us. Last year we won fairly comfortably. We had six weeks preparation and a full colts competition to select the team from. This year we had three weeks preparation and no colts competition. We played pretty direct and had to really tough it out. I was stoked for them to get the win."
* The future player-pool looks bright for the NHRU after Hunter beat Eastwood in the final to win the under-18 State Championships last weekend. The under-16s went down to the ACT Brumbies in the semi-final.
* Wanderers will call Waratah Oval home for games against Maitland (June 22) and Lake Macquarie (June 30) due to No.2 Sportsground being quarantined for the Wallaroos' test against Japan on July 13.
* Two-time Anderson Medal winner Carl Manu has made his annual pilgrimage to Belgium for the Flanders Open Tens tournament and will miss Maitland's blockbuster against Lake Macquarie on Saturday.
** Divisional club Griffins take on University at Lynn Oval Stockton on Saturday for the Stuart Trench cup. Trench was a NHRU stalwart at Port Tech and Griffins, for whom his son has played the majorit of his 450-plus games. The Stuart Trench Cup has been an annual event since his passing in 2007.