WHEN Bathurst Public School opted to enter its rugby league side in this year's edition of the NSW PSSA Classic Shield it was with no great expectations, but now this group of young guns is one win from glory.
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Come next Tuesday, September 13, Bathurst Public will be playing Scone in the state final at Cessnock.
They've won eight consecutive matches to make it thus far and Jodie Goninan, who co-coaches the side with Sophie Tilburg, is delighted.
"It's amazing. I'm very blessed to be sharing this with them. Motivating the boys to bring the best out of them is something I'm loving," Goninan said.
"It's massive, this is actually our first year of entering the PSSA competition. We normally support the Peachey Shield and Richardson Cup but it's non-competitive, so we thought 'Let's have a try putting them into the competitive side', we didn't expect to go this far, so we're pretty tickled.
"I actually don't think they understand what a big deal it is, I don't think they realise how many children have participated in the Classic Shield or how amazing it is to get this far in the competition."
While many members of the side play for either St Pat's or Bathurst Panthers in the Group 10 Junior Rugby League competition, this is the first time they've combined for the Year 5-6 shield.
Goninan said the way they have gelled as a unit has been key to their success.
"We've got 18 boys in our squad, they have such a love of rugby league, they're beautiful mates and show wonderful sportsmanship," she said.
"We've got some 11-year-olds and some 12-year-olds so they haven't really played together as a team before, but lot of them do play [club] together.
"Sophie, she has been coaching the boys as well. She is so talented and really has brought the best out the boys. Sophie has wonderful knowledge of the game."
Bathurst Public's path to the Classic Shield final began on May 19.
They beat Oberon PS 26-4, held on to down Wallerawang 10-6 then were too good for Orange PS, winning 22-0 to advance to the next round of the Western region stage.
That came on July 17 and again Bathurst Public was too good for its rivals.
It beat Calare Public 16-0, Forbes 18-10 then downed Orana Heights 26-12 to become Western champions.
"It's an automatic elimination format, so the boys have won all the way though," Goninan said.
"Some of our very toughest competition was at the first carnival in the Bathurst region, we were closer matched against those sides than we have been against anyone else.
"Wallerawang was our closest match, we thought 'Oh we're gone here', that was very tight."
Bathurst Public then advanced to the Southern State Carnival in Goulburn alongside the Riverina, South Coast and Sydney Metro region champions.
There Bathurst Public beat Wagga South then Gerringong Public School to book a passage to the Classic Shield final.
Even better, captain and lock Jackson Fischbeck was named player of the tournament.
"To get to be Western champions was amazing, we're really happy with that, but now we're playing against Scone to be the top team in the state and I think that's going to be televised," Goninan said.
The final against Scone at Cessnock Sports Ground will kick off at noon on September 13.
The day will also feature the Buckley Shield and University Shield deciders.
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