Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Papamoa Bulldogs fired up for league final

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FINALS BOUND: Papamoa Bulldogs under-15 coach Joanna Wynyard with Ezra Petley (left) and Las Filo. PHOTO/ANDREW WARNER
FINALS BOUND: Papamoa Bulldogs under-15 coach Joanna Wynyard with Ezra Petley (left) and Las Filo. PHOTO/ANDREW WARNER

Bay of Plenty Coastline competition finals day in Rotorua tomorrow will be history making for the Papamoa Bulldogs.

The club's under-15 side take on Pikiao Warriors to become the first Papamoa side to make a competition final.

They got there by beating Otumoetai Eels 22-18 in a thrilling semifinal at Gordon Spratt Reserve last week.

Papamoa's under-15 side is coached by Joanna Wynyard in her first season in charge of any team.

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Despite the sudden learning curve she has been on she has loved every minute of the season so far.

"It has been a big step for me and a big eye-opener," she said.

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"We lose quite a few players between the 15s and 17s so we only had six boys from last year's Papamoa Bulldogs team so it was either make-or-break for us. We were either going to go and mingle with another team or try and build ourselves.

"My boy brought home lots of friends from school and that is how we got our team together this year.

"We went from six players from last year's Papamoa Bulldogs team to 23 this year."

Cutting the squad down to the match-day 17 has been the biggest challenge for Wynyard.

"Having that squad of 23 means I am standing down six players every week so it is hard in that sense and just dealing with that age of under-15.

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"It sort of gets a bit tricky as they know a bit more than what you do but it is just trying to show that guidance and trying to find those pathways for them to get into.

"I sort of hold my foot in the door so they can come with me as well." Wynyard said last week's semifinal win over Otumoetai was a real nail-biter.

"With us both playing in the same district we are all good friends and are a good family together so it was one of those hard games when you get to play against your own friends." she said.

"My boys showed they played the game of league rather than playing their friends which is how we got our win.

"Otumoetai Eels are an awesome club.

"They beat us the first round we played them in our competition and I think it was exactly the same score so it was a big table turn for us winning this game."

Wynyard said the population boom in Papamoa could only be good for the rugby league club.

"It has gone from 8000 people to 20,000 in the past two years so building the club for us and getting our name out there is what we strive for.

"We just want to get all the local people who live here into the game of rugby league."

-Papamoa Bulldogs v Pikiao Warriors, Puketawhero Park, Rotorua, Sunday, 12pm. The winner will go forward to the semifinals of the Burger King Wai-Coa-Bay Youth Championship.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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