Laurieton Stingrays celebrate successful inaugural Hastings League season

Honoured: Sue Jones and Jim Bell say they are honoured to receive the Club Supporter of the Year and Club Person of the Year awards for the Laurieton Hotel Stingrays.
Honoured: Sue Jones and Jim Bell say they are honoured to receive the Club Supporter of the Year and Club Person of the Year awards for the Laurieton Hotel Stingrays.

‘Shocked’, ‘surprised’ and ‘honoured’.

Those are the three words that best sum up Sue Jones and Jim Bell’s feelings when they were named in the inaugural winners of the Supporter of the Year and Club Person of the Year for the Laurieton Hotel Stingrays.

The club completed a hugely successful entry into the Hastings League competition in 2017, playing semi final football in their inaugural year.

At the club’s presentation, Jones says she couldn’t believe her name was read out as the inaugural winner.

“I am really proud to be involved with the Stingrays. We are really a big, happy family,” she said.

“As a new club, the first season was just fantastic. Everyone played their part, the coaching staff, the committee and everyone that worked behind the scenes was wonderful.

“There was amazing support; I like to call it the Stingray family.

"On the field, the players played with pride and passion and had a never say die attitude and they also conducted themselves off the field really well.”

She is particularly proud to be the first person whose name appears on the trophy.

If Jones was surprised, Jim Bell was almost speechless to receive his Club Person of the Year award.

While his main duties revolved around the barbeque and acting as ground manager, the award acknowledged his willingness to help out wherever he was required.

“Even before the season got underway, I was very keen to be involved,” he said. “But it was just a real shock (to be named) … you couldn’t ask for a better introduction to rugby league than at the Stingrays.

“And it’s not bad for a Yank (Bell is from the US). I’ve coached gridiron but this is the first club person of the year award for me.

“I really want to be more involved next year. I’m looking forward to the upcoming season.”

The Laurieton Stingrays are still celebrating their successful introduction into the historic Hastings League competition.

The Stingrays joined the competition for the 2017 season.

There was amazing support; I like to call it the Stingray family.

Sue Jones

Along with a hard-working committee, the club enjoyed success on and off the field.

The inaugural side reached the semi finals – they finished fourth on the competition ladder – where they took on perennial semi finalists the Long Flat Dragons in an elimination final.

In front of a good-sized crowd, the Stingrays defeated the Dragons 12 to 6 in a ‘classic arm wrestle’.

The Dragons opened their account just four minutes in when Josh Henry crossed and James Mumford converted.

At the 16th minute mark the Rays hooker Brian Eggins was sinned binned but the Dragons couldn't capitalise.

The Rays were next to score on 24 minutes when winger Brendan Farnsworth crossed.

Both sides went to the break with the Dragons holding a slender 6-4 lead.

After the breaks the Rays’ Brendan Farnsworth crossed for his second try for the day after just eight minutes and when Dean Rogerson converted, the Rays hit the lead 10 to 6.

Both sides threw everything at each other with some good attacking raids but neither side could crack the others’ defence.

Rogerson boosted a penalty goal two minutes from full time to wrap up the semi final 12-6 in favour of the new kids on the block.

Unfortunately the Stingrays met a hot Lower Macleay Magpies outfit and dropped out of the running for higher honours.

At the club’s presentation, the following awards were presented.

Best and fairest and best defence – Mitch O’Neill; highest try scorer and players player – Jack Harper; best back – Kieran Roberts; best forward – Dane Gunning.

Most improved went to Mick Ramsay while the coaches award went to Corey McFarlane.

In the major awards, Sue Jones was presented the supporter of the year while Jim Bell was named the club person of the year.

The Laurieton Hotel Stingrays are already gearing up for the Hastings League 2018 season and will be making further announcements on sponsors, coaching staff and players in the near future.