FOLLOWING a tough campaign of ISA Rugby the St Stanislaus' College team ended their year on a very high note by taking out the NSW Waratahs Schools 7s state finals on Wednesday.
Having successfully navigated their way through the Western phase of the competition Stannies went to the finals eager to test themselves at that level for the first time.
They made their inaugural appearance at the finals in Granville one to remember.
Stannies had qualified thanks to a victory in the Western region final against St John's and went to the state finals unsure what to expect from the experience.
However, they won both their pool matches against Balgowlah Boys High and St Edwards Gosford before booking their place in the decider with semi-final success against Dorrigo High School.
The tournament culminated in a thrilling 22-19 victory over Hunter Sports High, where Stannies scored the winning try inside the last minute of the match.
Coach Shane Thurston said the success against Hunter was an exciting way to round the year.
"We scored probably with less than 30 seconds to go, after we'd been behind throughout the whole match," he said.
"That was a very pleasing way to win it, especially against Hunter Sports High, who have some great athletes in their side.
"It was hard to know what to expect going down to the state finals. After having good results in our pool games and watching some of the other matches we thought we were in with a good chance."
The 15-a-side season had been a challenging one for the school's 1st XV, which ended with a loss to Kinross in the final round of the ISA campaign.
But Thurston said the sevens competition allowed the squad to make the most of their speed and ability to move the ball quickly.
"This year, with the players we have, it was a style of game that suited us," he said.
"We were able to play fairly wide with some guys who are mobile and quick."
Thurston said it was a great end of winter overall for the school's trio of sevens teams, and he'd love to see Stannies make the end-of-season tournament an annual target on their calendar.
"This is the first time we've gone in this competition and it was great to play in Dubbo a few weeks ago, because playing against teams from further out in the Central West isn't something we often get to do," he said.
"Winning that carnival and progressing to Sydney was fantastic and it's something we look forward to being involved again in the future.
"In Dubbo we won the 14s, 16s and opens competition. There was unfortunately no progression for the 14s out of that carnival and for our 16s it fell on the week where all of our boys are away on work placement.
"Hopefully it's something that continues for us in the future because the boys really enjoyed the experience."