by Pam McKay
TOUCH: Two Rockhampton teams have reigned supreme at the All Schools Touch Championships, the biggest touch carnival in the world.
The Rockhampton Grammar School's 18 years boys and The Cathedral College's 13 years boys brought home the coveted title in their respective age divisions.
A record 415 teams from 100 schools contested the four-day event in Brisbane.
Grammar dropped just one game on its way to victory, while the TCC side went through undefeated but had to survive two drop-offs in the finals series to claim the trophy.
Grammar coach Damon Moore said despite the one scare in the round games, he was impressed with his team's efforts.
"It was really good. The boys put in a lot of hard work in the 10 weeks leading up to the championships, training one night a week and playing together in the Rockhampton competition on Wednesday nights.
"This is such a great team; it wasn't one super star trying to do everything.
"Everyone was on the same page. They knew what their role was in the team and they gave it 100% every single time.”
Familiarity was also a big factor for the team. All but four of its members were part of the school's champion rugby league team which won a trifecta of trophies this year, including the highly prized Confraternity Shield.
Damon's brother Blake Moore led from the front as captain.
He was named player of the grand final, which his team won 8-6 against Cavendish Road State High, the same team that beat them in the round games.
Damon said one of the most pleasing aspects was the way in which the players responded after that loss.
"It's always good to win no matter how you do it but we went the hard road and showed some real character,” he said.
"The boys really put in and worked hard and the rewards came.”
The Grammar team has been a force at the championships, going through undefeated to win in 2015 and finishing as runners-up last year.
By contrast, the majority of the TCC team was making its first appearance at the championships.
Coach Tony Martin could not hide his delight as he spoke about the team's incredible performance.
"It was brilliant,” he declared yesterday. "It's a massive tournament, they said it's the biggest in the world.
"We had 12 really good players who knew what their roles were and they played really well as a team - and they had to because there were plenty of quality teams down there.
"To win something like that is a huge achievement.
"This is a really good team and they're a great bunch of boys.”
TCC qualified on top of its pool with five wins and a draw in the round games.
Tony said the team's win over touch powerhouse Keebra Park in their fourth game instilled a lot of confidence in the playing group.
"To win that 6-2 was a massive thing mentally for the boys because before that they were a little bit nervous.
"We had a fair indication after that that we were going okay.”
TCC won on drop-offs in its semi-final to set up another showdown with Keebra Park in the grand final.
The teams were locked at 3-all at full-time, sending the decider into drop-offs as well.
Within minutes, Tana Martin made a quick break and fired a pass to the ever-reliable Jackson Tews who scored the try to wrap up the game and the title.
Tana, Tony's son, was named the player of the final.
"He played well and had a really good tournament but across the board the boys were just fantastic.
"It was really interesting for me wearing two hats - as a coach and as a parent.
"It was great to see all the Rocky schools band together and support our boys in the final.
"Those scenes at the end of the grand final were really special.
"It was a wonderful moment for the kids.”