The Blue Lake Knights finally closed out a challenging season on and off the field with a special game against the Naracoorte Jets at Malseed Park on Saturday. After the Limestone Coast Rugby League season could not take place due to border restrictions, the Knights were left with no-one to play against.
But the club made the most of a difficult situation by scheduling a three-match series with the Jets and introducing the sport to the youth. After suffering heavy defeats in the opening two battles, Blue Lake fought back with a spirited performance in the mental health awareness contest on the weekend.
Boosted by the welcome inclusion of some Victorian names to fill an injury-depleted list, the Knights traded blows with their South Australian rival in a brutal encounter. A grandstand finish was in store with Naracoorte leading by just two points as the end approached.
However, an unfortunate injury brought proceedings to an early finish and the Jets just held on. Despite the clean sweep, there were plenty of positives to take away from the game after TamaiMenah Nadevo scored two tries, while Keegan Gaby and Stephen Aflofe also scored.
Blue Lake Knights president Sean Hunter said it was a very encouraging performance for his men. “Naracoorte dominated the first two games, but it was a good improvement from our guys,” he said. “We had a lot of guys come over from Victoria because the Knights had a bit of an injury hoodoo, so with that boost of experience, we showed what we can become.”
Considering the bleak position the club found itself when its entire summer schedule was dashed, Hunter said it was a challenge to get the team on the park for three competitive games. “It was a huge effort by everyone at the club to have the modified season with Naracoorte,” he said. “It was a huge relief to play that last game and to have such a tight contest capped off the end of a great series.”
Blue Lake’s silver lining from unfortunate LCRL postponement was the club’s focus on grass roots. With a relatively free summer schedule, the Knights poured all of their attention into the organising various NRL Junior Rugby League Days to grow the game. Hunter said it was a big success and the club has big plans next season.
“As the club this season we mainly focused on starting up juniors and held four separate days averaging about 20 kids each of all ages,” he said. “It exceeded our expectations with the amount of interest and was a good success for the club. “We hope to carry on next summer and will push to have it at every home game in the 2021 season.”