Defeat hurts for hat-trick hero

MIXED EMOTIONS: Justin Bleakley tries to fend off tacklers for his North Coast under-15 side during the clash against Western Australia at Lennox Head’s Williams Reserve. He ran in a hat-trick of tries but the regional side narrowly lost out.
MIXED EMOTIONS: Justin Bleakley tries to fend off tacklers for his North Coast under-15 side during the clash against Western Australia at Lennox Head’s Williams Reserve. He ran in a hat-trick of tries but the regional side narrowly lost out. Stuart Turner

TALK about a roller-coaster day for Justin Bleakley.

The 14-year-old from Lennox Head was the pride of the town's rugby community after scoring all of North Coast's points -including a hat-trick of tries - in their Junior Gold Cup under-15 clash with Western Australia.

Despite a strong showing, the regional side went down 27-17 in a see-saw battle with its state rivals at Lennox Head's Williams Reserve yesterday.

Inside centre Justin only took up rugby about four years ago and said the treble was an unforgettable experience.

"That was definitely one of the top moments for me," he said. "I was stoked.

"I loved every bit of it - but it was disappointing to lose like that."

It was an entertaining contest, with WA proving a shade too powerful for the North Coast side.

It was the first loss in three matches for North Coast in the tournament, which features teams from across Australia.

The North Coast squad has been in training since late last year for the competition, which aims to help develop future Wallabies.

"I learnt so much," said Justin, who attends St John's College Woodlawn.

"The coaches are really professional. I've learned about nutrition, improved my fitness - it's helped in all areas really.

"I guess we've learned (today) we are not the best side in the competition and we can improve."

Justin also said the loss had not dampened his side's enthusiasm for the tournament.

"Everyone gets so pumped up for these games," he said.

"I love everything about rugby - especially matches like today."

North Coast takes on Brisbane Yellow in Coffs Harbour next Sunday.


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