The Ngurra Kujungka Western Desert League (WDL) 2015 Champions would be decided at the Warralong Festival, with all teams hoping to secure bragging rights for another year of battles on both football and softball fields. The Warralong Festival brought to a head competition that had been running through two previous carnivals in Punmu and Nullagine. Warralong sat atop the football ladder, while Punmu were on top in softball.
Again, Ngurra Kujungka was supported by our extensive network of partners and service providers, led by Newcrest Mining, who have been on board from day one supporting sport in Martu communities. Support from the Department of Sport and Recreation, Healthway and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet was also greatly appreciated. Desert Feet, our valued festival-travelling musicians, rocked their stage and contributed significantly in Warralong with numerous recordings, workshops and concerts held throughout the week. With eight Martu communities coming together for the festival, health providers and physical activity promoters, WA Country Health, Diabetes WA and Fair Game, were all welcomed aboard.
During the Warralong Festival’s round robin series, the host team dominated across three days of competition. The final day saw the day kicking off with the Warralong Festival Grand Final between the top two sides, Warralong and Nullagine. While the expectation was for Warralong to continue their round robin dominance, no one had passed the script onto Nullagine who, through some strong running and tight defensive marking, ran out winners 2.7 (19) to Warralong 1.2 (8). Nullagine were to be crowned Festival Champions later that evening, but first had to re-focus for an Elimination Final against Punmu to determine who would face Warralong in the Western Desert League Grand Final.
Warralong were very disappointed at losing in front of their home crowd for the first time in the week and were sure to come out firing in the last game of the day. In the WDL Elimination Final, a fresh Punmu took on a Nullagine side backing up from their earlier victory over Warralong. Full of confidence, Nullagine started strongly, leading at the first change. However, Punmu got into to the swing of their game and took control of the match, putting in a four-goal final term to blow away (as strongly as the ever-frequent sand storms!) Nullagine’s chances of securing a second trophy. The WDL Championship Duel As the day cooled Warralong and Punmu would battle it out for the
2015 WDL Championship trophy. Punmu had recovered from their previous Elimination Final and looked prepared to put in a huge effort.
However, it was Warralong who came out the better in the first term, taking a two-goal lead. With Punmu failing to score in the first quarter many around the ground settled in for what they believed would be an easy victory to the home side. However, those who thought this would be an easy victory were shocked to see Warralong reduced to a whimper in the second term, with Punmu kicking four goals to take a stranglehold on the game. Whispered questions around the ground queried whether Warralong would suffer another finals defeat. Strong words at half-time by both coaches provided yet another twist to an exciting game. In the premiership quarter, Warralong
came back fighting and held Punmu scoreless, to go into the final quarter holding a six point lead. A tense final quarter saw scoring almost come to a halt as two strong defensive units took control. The action went back and forth, with Punmu kicking a goal and Warralong failing to get the ball between the big sticks. A decisive last-quarter point scored by Warralong secured a stunning victory and a fitting end to an exciting 2015 WDL Season.
Two trophies were up for the taking as Round 3 of the Western Desert Softball League arrived. The top three teams – Punmu, Parnpajinya and Nullagine – travelled to compete with the hosts, Warralong, in a week of challenging Western Desert conditions. Warralong formed two teams to compete in the fixtures, creating a five team tournament. Scorching heat and frequent dust storms resulted in longer breaks during the middle of the day, with fixtured games played in the morning and evening.
Round Three saw some very impressive plays as the skill level of all Western Desert teams continues to improve. Tahlia Thomas, crowned with homerun of the tournament, made the home run fence seem minuscule, smashing two home runs, one being a grand slam, along with numerous twobag stands throughout the tournament entertaining the home team’s spectators. However, the benefits of competing in a weekly competition became evident, as Parnpajinya remained undefeated and on top of the ladder for Round Three.
Punmu, favourites entering the tournament, secured three wins and a percentage that placed them in second position for the round. Nullagine and both Warralong teams finished the round with two wins each, missing out on the Round Three Grand Final. As Punmu softball players gradually arrived in Warralong, their team grew stronger in time to compete for the Round Three Champions trophy. In anticipated finals style, the two teams remained close in a highscoring game. Both teams were anxious entering the fourth and final innings.. Away team Parnpajinya batted first, securing a one-run lead, and needing to hold the always-powerful Punmu scoreless to secure the win. Tension grew as the first batter was called out, leaving Punmu two opportunities to score. A close play at second base saw the second out of the innings called, leaving Punmu two down with a runner on first base. Parnpajinya held tight in the field, grounding out the third and final batter resulting in ‘time and game’ called by the umpire, as the young team secured their first championship trophy since their induction into the league.
With a taste of victory, the Hawks quickly refocused on the challenge ahead, with the opportunity to secure a second trophy for the week. The final Western Desert League ladder resulted in a repeat of the Round Three Grand Final, with Punmu finishing on top and Parnpajinya a close second. If the previous day’s play was anything to go by, the second-chance final would be a cracker of a game. However, and unfortunately, Punmu decided to call the game a forfeit, thereby advancing Parnpajinya straight to the Grand Final.
With a bittersweet feeling, the Round Three champions re-focused towards the last game of the day and year. Warralong combined their teams for the Western Desert League finals, taking on Nullagine in the knockout final. A hard-fought game saw the home team run away winners in front of a cheerful crowd as Nullagine’s finals campaign ended for the year. With Punmu offered a second chance to secure a spot in the grand final, a second forfeit for the day saw the home team gain entrance to the Western Desert League Grand Final.
As both Warralong football and softball teams secured places in their respective grand finals, the community was deserted as young and old made their way to the oval to support their families competing for the Western Desert League Champions’ trophy. Parnpajinya took the lead early in the grand final, revealing weakness in the Warralong defense. However, at the plate Warralong continued to strongly contest the Parnpajinya field, making them earn each out. Warralong and Parnpajinya played a well-spirited game despite the onesided scoreboard.
A very consistent Parnpajinya side ran away from Warralong in the fourth innings, comfortably securing the win and excitingly crowning the team WDL Champions for 2015.