In an exciting and successful day that saw a great showing of enthusiastic young U/17 players get their first ever taste of Rugby League, Toronto Touch Rugby showcasing the Touch version of the game and the four ORL teams including the debutante Burlington Tigers battling for Nines supremacy, the Toronto Centurions have snuck home 22 – 20 in a thriller against a game Brantford Broncos squad to win the 2016 Ontario Nines.
On a cool and partially sunny day at Esther Shiner Stadium in Toronto it was apparent from the first kickoff that the title of 2016 ORL Nines champions was going to be hard earned. Despite it being the first time on the field and playing the unfamiliar Nines format no quarter was given as the hits, which came hard and frequent were punctuated with some great open attacking play in the four Preliminary Round and both Finals games.
After two exciting preliminary rounds the undefeated Brantford Broncos and Toronto Centurions made their way to the final over an unlucky Toronto City Saints squad who lost both preliminary round games by just two points. The Saints however were too strong for the Burlington Tigers team in the Consolation Final running out handy winners 30 to 6.
The final itself was a see sawing affair with the Broncos taking an early first half lead only to have the Centurions bring it back with the score tied at half time. The second half saw the lead change a couple of times, before with less than a minute to go on a final Centurions raid,Tony “The Cat” Felix dived over from dummy half to tie it up 20 – 20, Felix converting his own try for the Centurions win and the title of 2016 ORL Nines Champions.
While the ORL teams provided lots of exciting action there is no doubt that one of the highlights of the day was the success of the first ever Junior Development activity in Ontario that saw two teams of aspiring youngsters show up for the chance to represent Team Ontario against Western Canada and the Young Canada Wolverines on a ground breaking U/17 tour to Jamaica in August.
Put though their paces in Skill Sessions by Team Canada Wolverines Coach, Jamie Lester and Team Canada Wolverines Co-Captain and Ontario Junior Development Manager, Steve Piatek the boys were divided into two squads, displaying their talents under the watchful eyes of Coaches Lester and Piatek in two great Nines Trial Games.
In addition the ORL and U/17 players and crowd were also treated to an exciting display by Toronto Touch Rugby, the only Federation of International Touch (FIT) sanctioned touch league in two co-ed Exhibition Games that saw end to end action.
The teams will now turn their attention to Round 1 of the ORL Championship which kicks off next Sunday, May 1 at Lamport Stadium in downtown Toronto with the Toronto City Saints taking on the Burlington Tigers, who will be all the stronger for their Nines experience and looking for a first up win at 1pm followed by a rematch of the ORL Nines Finalists at 3pm as the Brantford Broncos look for revenge over the Toronto Centurions.
Toronto City Saints (16) – Toronto Centurions (20)
Burlington Tigers (16) – Brantford Broncos (36)
Toronto City Saints (18) – Brantford Broncos (20)
Burlington Tigers (8) – Toronto Centurions (20)
Toronto City Saints (30) – Burlington (6)
ORL Nines Final
Toronto Centurions (22) – Brantford Broncos (20)