BATHURST played host to some of the brightest touch football talent in NSW on Thursday as a host of schools from across the state played off for the NSW Year Seven and Eight schools titles in the boys and girls divisions.

Teams qualified for the tournament via 16 regional competitions, along with a few schools who were granted exemptions due to the fact that they run fully-fledged touch football programs.

One of those schools was The Hills Sports High, who ultimately qualified a team in both the boys and girls finals on Thursday.

The girls team was successful courtesy of a 3-2 win over St Peter’s who are based at Tuggerah on the Central Coast, but the Hills boys weren’t quite able to get across the line in the boys’ decider.

They took on Patrician Brothers Blacktown and lost 3-2 despite a close effort in the last 30 seconds that almost saw them level only for a desperate touch to hold them out.

Amazingly out of the entire state, those two teams came from the same regional tournament with Patrician Brothers having taking out the Penrith final 4-3 after a extra-time drop-off.

Courtesy of their exemption, Hills made it through regardless and showed by making the decider in Bathurst that they deserved their spot.

From the Central West, Red Bend College in Forbes made it to the knock-out stages of the girls’ finals while Orange High bowed out in the qualification rounds on Wednesday morning in both the boys’ and girls’ draws.

“We’ve been extremely lucky with the weather, the quality of the football has been outstanding,” Touch Football NSW development manager Riley Sohier said.

“This format has been running for 10 years now with the Year Seven-Eights playing together and the standard has gone up immeasurably in that time.

“For a while there when it started it was basically a case of all teams just fielding rugby league players who happened to make good touch players, but for most of them now, this is their first sport and you can see that just by watching them.

“This is the first time the tournament has been held west of the Blue Mountains and only the fourth time it has been outside the Sydney metropolitan area.”

DRIVING: Samara Efele and Claire Barber from Forbes’ Red Bend College work together in attack at Learmonth Park on Thursday. Photo: ZENIO LAPKA 110812ztouch

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