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J3 Black were lucky enough to have almost a full returning compliment of players, returning Manger Samantha as well and Ref Brendon Dacey stepping up.

We were well captained through the season by Noah Taylor and vice-captain Mason Ikilei, with both players leading from the front.

Year-on-year, we had some notable growth spurts with the now taller players really showing their dominance in the game, especially in the forwards, where we were often the more dominant forward pack in most of the games.

From the get-go, the entire team was itching to show their kicking skills out on the field, with the most memorable (and possibly only successful effort) coming from the boot of Butcher Boy, followed by a brilliant chase from Nelson to gather the ball and dot down.

The highlight had to be against Mahurangi, where in round 2 we lost 12-6, only to play them again in our second to last game and came away with an 11-10 win after a good physical contest that showed lots of emotion and passion from both sides.

Sadly, with more losses than wins, what was clearly notable was how far the entire team matured and developed through the year. We weren’t always the biggest side, but the entire team punched well above their collective weight and played smart, aggressive rugby. Most opposition coaches often complementing our dominance in the forwards especially.

Near the end of the season, we had the return of “Officer” Damo!

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