Lithgow player features in top football talents at Bathurst

WESTERN gave a strong account of themselves against some of the state’s best junior talent during last week’s NSW Combined High Schools Boys’ Football Championships held in Bathurst.

CHALLENGE: Lithgow's Luke Thompson encounters Sydney West's William Gafa. Photo: ALEXANDER GRANT

CHALLENGE: Lithgow's Luke Thompson encounters Sydney West's William Gafa. Photo: ALEXANDER GRANT

Western, featuring Lithgow’s Luke Thompson, finished the tournament on Thursday, June 7 in eighth out of 12 teams, going close to completing a comeback in their playoff game against the CHS Invitational side.

CLEAN AIR: Orange High School's Mitch Cooper finds open space through the midfield. Photo: ALEXANDER GRANT

CLEAN AIR: Orange High School's Mitch Cooper finds open space through the midfield. Photo: ALEXANDER GRANT

Considering the high standard of play Western coach Paul Waine was happy with his team’s result.

IN SPACE: Dubbo College's Ethan Hyde on the ball for Western against Sydney West. Photo: ALEXANDER GRANT

IN SPACE: Dubbo College's Ethan Hyde on the ball for Western against Sydney West. Photo: ALEXANDER GRANT

“We went down 3-2 in our last game. It was a really great performance from the team. We were down 3-0 at half-time but made some changes and gave them a really big scare towards the end,” he said.

“That invitational team have been together for a while and they’re playing at the highest level of football in Sydney.”

BREAKTHROUGH: Dubbo's Jesse Spang beats a Sydney West defender and brings the ball into his opponents' half. Sydney West won the quarter-final meeting 2-0, picking up a goal in both halves. Photo: ALEXANDER GRANT

BREAKTHROUGH: Dubbo's Jesse Spang beats a Sydney West defender and brings the ball into his opponents' half. Sydney West won the quarter-final meeting 2-0, picking up a goal in both halves. Photo: ALEXANDER GRANT

Western got their campaign off to a great start on Tuesday when they downed Riverina 1-0.

ON THE MOVE: Bathurst's Damian Mays in action against Sydney West on Wednesday. Photo: ALEXANDER GRANT

ON THE MOVE: Bathurst's Damian Mays in action against Sydney West on Wednesday. Photo: ALEXANDER GRANT

The hosts played Sydney South West for the right to top spot in their pool but their metropolitan opponents were a cut above in a 6-0 win.

That result meant Western had to face defending champions Sydney West in a tough quarter-final meeting on Wednesday.

DASH: Bathurst's Ryan Rooke and his opponent in a foot race for the ball. Photo: ALEXANDER GRANT

DASH: Bathurst's Ryan Rooke and his opponent in a foot race for the ball. Photo: ALEXANDER GRANT

Western struggled to maintain possession but their defence kept them in the contest.

Sydney West’s quality shone through by the end as they picked up a 2-0 win.

Western lost by the same scoreline to Hunter and the result sent the home side to the 7th/8th playoff.

TACKLE: Western players close down a Sydney West opponent in Wednesday's game. Photo: ALEXANDER GRANT

TACKLE: Western players close down a Sydney West opponent in Wednesday's game. Photo: ALEXANDER GRANT

“We purely worked on our defence at training because we knew that was where our strength would be. We played really well against some quality teams,” Waine said.

POSSESSION: Bathurst's Steven Long on the ball for Western against Sydney West. Photo: ALEXANDER GRANT

POSSESSION: Bathurst's Steven Long on the ball for Western against Sydney West. Photo: ALEXANDER GRANT

“We had a couple of training runs against some local teams and that definitely helped us prepare.”

Sydney West went on to win the final 1-0 over Sydney East in a physical decider. Both teams finished with just 10 men on the field.

ALMOST: One of Western's rare chances goes begging as Sydney West clear a corner. Photo: ALEXANDER GRANT

ALMOST: One of Western's rare chances goes begging as Sydney West clear a corner. Photo: ALEXANDER GRANT

It was a memorable tournament for Bathurst’s Ryan Rooke. His performance earned him a place in the CHS shadows.