Balonne shows strength
POLOCROSSE: The Balonne region has been well represented at the 2018 Polocrosse Nationals in Perth, with St George's Samantha Speedy and Dirranbandi's Meg O'sullivan representing New South Wales and Queensland respectively.
In an intriguing match up, both girls faced each other in the finals of the Under 21's intermediate girls with Meg O Sullivan's Queensland claiming bragging rights with a come from behind win, edging New South Wales by a single goal.
For Samantha, the experience was slightly surreal - facing some girls she grew up around - but since moving to Armidale to study at the University of New England she has fitted in seamlessly with the New South Wales team.
Already, she has represented the state at Muswellbrook in March and against New Zealand in May for a trans-Tasman carnival; milestones which were achieved through hard work.
"When I moved to Armidale, it was really just a matter of playing in as many carnivals as I could and work my way up from there,” Samantha said.
"I took my horse down with me and met some really nice family friends and they looked after me and introduced me to everyone.”
Samantha's horse, Booneri Archie, has travelled with her every step of the way, the Nindigully- bred horse proving an excellent competitor.
The intrigue of playing fellow Queenslanders while representing New South Wales was an interesting prospect but, according to Samantha's father Jason, it brought out the best in everyone.
"The rivalry between the two states was alive and well and it's probably a great thing for the riders because they all play so well because of it,” he said.
"But at the end of it, they're all great mates.”
"The New South Wales girls that Sam played with are such a great bunch of kids and I couldn't be more proud of the skill level shown in that final game.”
Jason and Samantha's mother Bettina, have been extremely proud of their daughter's achievements.
"It's a big thing what Sam has done,” Bettina said.
"She's already represented Queensland as a junior at the nationals in Darwin and has played in Great Britain and Ireland, but to come home and represent both states is a big achievement.”