The Maitland Blacks juniors are ready to cap off one of the most successful years in their 50-year history with five teams qualifying for grand finals on the weekend.
The Blacks under-15s kick off the finals action when they meet Wanderers under lights at Tomaree Sporting Complex on Friday from 6.30pm.
On Saturday, Blacks under-11, under-12, under-13 and under-14 teams will be vying for titles in their respective age groups at Tomaree as well.
Blacks Juniors president Dan Leadley said 2017 had been an incredible milestone year for the club with eight out of eligible 11 teams qualify for finals, with all age groups from under-11 to under-16 represented.
Leadley said the major focus of their junior programs was to provide an encouraging environment, with quality coaching to allow the boys and girls to enjoy rugby and to learn the skills.
He said the club had multiple teams at under-8 through to under-12 levels (three under-8s, three-under 9s, two under-10s, two under-11s, two under-12s, two under-14s), and single teams from under-13, 15 and 16 competing in the Hunter Junior Rugby Union competition.
“We’ve got a total of 17 junior teams running out from the Blacks each weekend as well as numerous junior netball teams,” Leadley said.
“We’re incredibly proud of the family environment we’re providing for these youngsters to be introduced into team sports and no doubt they’ll form friendships which they’ll carry throughout their lives.”
The Little Blacks Army under-7 competition has grown to include 10 teams and more than 100 players from across Maitland.
Leadley said one of the most exciting elements of Maitland’s junior program was the involvement of senior players in coaching clinics and just getting along to support the youngsters at training and on game days.
“Players like our first grade captain Chris Logan and Travis Brooke lead the way,” he said.
Under-15: Maitland v Wanderers, 6.30pm on Friday at Tomaree Sporting Complex
Under-11: Maitland v Nelson Bay, 9.20am, Saturday
Under-12: Maitland Black v Wanderers, 10.10am
Under-13: Maitland v Southern Beaches, 11.15am
Under-14: Maitland v Nelson Bay, 12.20pm
Meanwhile, the Maitland Blacks third and fourth grade teams are in finals action this weekend.
The Blacks meet Merewether Carlton in the third grade preliminary final on Saturday, battling for a spot in the grand final against Wanderers. Kick off is at 12.15pm. Fourth grade play Hamilton at Ernie Calland Field on Friday from 7.15pm for a grand final berth.