John Ahsee Memorial wins Dubbo Waratahs Knockout

On paper it might just seem like more success for rugby league in Wellington but the importance of Saturday's Dubbo Waratahs Knockout victory was uniquely special.

The John Ahsee Memorial side took out the annual event for 2019, lighting up Apex Oval on the way to downing Billy Merritt Memorial in the final.

The John Ahsee side was predominantly made up of the Cowboys side which took out this season's Group 11 premiership but there was a number of other Wellington products in the lineup, including NRL stars Kotoni Staggs and Tyrone Peachey.

The team was playing in honour of 'Budge', and his son Johnny was on hand to hold the silverware aloft after the win in the final.

"This really means a lot. Especially to the family," Johnny Ahsee said.

"Dad has been gone for a while now but all these boys came here, stepped up, and had a really good time.

"It was good to watch. It was hard footy but it was good."

It was a gruelling day for all involved, with temperatures nudging 30 degrees as players took part in back-to-back matches.


After the early rounds it came down to the decider where the star-studded Ahsee team took on a Billy Merritt Memorial outfit featuring the likes of Group 11 standouts Josh Merritt, Alex Bonham, Jyie Chapman, Jai Merritt, and Corey Cox as well as ex-Forbes star Farren Lamb.

But they proved no match for the Wellington-based outfit, which ran out 32-18 victors.

Travis Waddell, Feleti Mateo, and Aidan Ryan all scored early to shoot John Ahsee Memorial out to an 18-0 lead.

Mateo's was particularly eye-catching as he burst through the defence on his own 20m line and showed great speed and strength to beat the chasing defence to the tryline.

Just when it seemed the decider could be a one-sided affair, Jayden Merritt powered across to score right on half-time to give the trailing side a real boost.

The Billy Merritt Memorial fans became even louder shortly after the break when Chapman floated across field before putting Mark Merritt across and the deficit was cut to six.

Dad has been gone for a while now but all these boys came here, stepped up, and had a really good time.

Johnny Ah See

But a Tyrone Peachey penalty goal and then Josh Griffiths try put the John Ahsee side back in command.

Two more late tries then sealed it, with a hard-running Clynton Edwards grabbing nothing but a consolation in the shadows of full-time.

Johnny Ah See was proud to see so many current and former Wellington players impress in the knockout win.

"We've got mates from Newcastle here who've come to help out. And our little mate Kotoni Staggs," he said.

"All the kids were getting his [Staggs'] autograph and he loves it and a big thanks goes to him and Tyrone. They're Wello boys."

Will Lousick and Griffiths picked up the event's major individual prizes for their starring efforts across the day.

Despite seeing his side fall short of knockout success again, Billy Merritt Memorial coach Gerry 'Chicka' Merritt almost struggled for words when saying how much the annual event meant to he and those close to him.

"Every year they put on these colours for Dad and Mum and all my family and I'm so very proud," he said at the post-game presentation.

"Words can't describe it and to do this for Dad and have his grandsons, nephews and all the mob playing for him is unreal. I really appreciate it."

This story Knockout victory a meaningful one for John Ahsee Memorial first appeared on Daily Liberal.