THE grand final dream may be over for the Bathurst Panthers under 11s league tag side in Group 10 Junior Rugby League but the team have a lot to be proud of looking back on their 2020 season.
For the young side, of which only a handful are even 11 years of age, the Panthers enjoyed their first taste of league tag action this season despite the year's play coming to an end in a 40-8 semi-final loss.
This was was all about learning the ropes of the game and the team took to it all very quickly, putting themselves into the exciting position of finals football.
With such a young side there will undoubtedly be many players back playing in the under 11s competition next season and that has coach Jess Hotham very excited.
"I think they really loved it. Just being in the finals made them so excited in their first year. The majority of those girls are only eight or nine. It's a really young side and, for most of them, it was their first time trying league tag," she said.
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"After the game they were already excited for next year and were talking about coming back. They know they've got many more years in it and they know the majority of those Mudgee girls are 11-years-old."
Sunday's game was a tough one for the Panthers girls but it only made them more determined to come back.
Hotham said it was a joy to see so many teams taking part in this year's junior competitions.
"I'm ecstatic about it," she said.
"I'm so happy to see this many girls involved in league tag. It took a while to get it all up and running properly and seeing the great amount of girls in these junior age groups is wonderful.
"These so many girls wanting to come and play now. I could have almost made two teams out of my under 11s squad - I had 18 who turned up to play.
"I'm hoping we can build on that next year and see it continue."