IT had been a long time coming and on Saturday Cowra finally claimed the Central West women’s premiership.
Playing at Orange’s Pride Park, Cowra held off a strong start from the Orange Emus Chicks to win the grand final 26-12.
Cowra coach Karina Russell was thrilled to see her side come out on top.
“(It’s) absolutely brilliant. We’ve waited 16 years for this and we’ve finally brought it home,” Russell said.
Many of the Cowra girls were in the Grenfell side which lost the 2012 women’s grand final to Emus.
This year they were able to reverse the result, but it wasn’t easy.
Emus dominated possession in the opening passages and even knocked on during a scoring opportunity.
Minutes later Cowra earned a penalty and took the tap on the half-way line.
It was the first time in the game the Eagles had been in Emus’ half.
Cowra quickly turned their chance into points as five-eighth Samantha Wood stepped out of a tackle and raced 40 metres to score.
Five minutes later Cowra extended their lead to 12-0 when half-back Betty Doolan was able to push her way over on the back of repeat phases.
Inga Viscer added the extras.
Emus didn’t give up and breakaway Sarah Webster was able to score when she took on the defence and pushed her way through to make it 12-5 just before the break.
Cowra dominated possession early in the second half and were able to turn it into points when Wood scored her second for the day and before kicking the conversion.
Emus wasted another scoring opportunity with a knock on minutes later, but when Sonia Dalla Vecchia had her chance, she didn’t miss.
The breakaway push over the line and Vanessa Foliaki’s conversion closed the gap to 19-12.
Cowra reacted quickly.
Winger Eden Stoddard sprinted through a gap, shrugged off a would-be tackler and ran in a try, with Wood converting what turned out to be the last try of the game.
It was a physical game, with some watching first grade players commenting on how heavy the tackles were.
“The girls went out there to play a hard game and they brought the shield home,” Russell said.
The coach wasn’t surprised by Emus dominating possession early.
“That’s generally what happens with us,” she said.
“They (Emus) run themselves down until they become tired and then we just walk on over them.”
Injured Emus player-coach Amanda Ferguson said her side had played their grand final when they had beaten Cowra in the major semi-final two weeks earlier.
“We had a couple of opportunities we probably should have used, but we didn’t,” Ferguson said.
“We did okay.”
Dalla Vecchia and Webster were strong for Emus, while Foliaki and Aleasha Clinghan were outstanding in defence.
Russell praised her entire team.
Winger Eden Stoddard was named the player of the grand final with her brilliant speed and solid defence.
Russell said you can expect to see the Cowra girls back next year trying to defend their title.
“My oath,” Russell smiled.
COWRA 26 (Samantha Wood 2, Eden Stoddard, Betty Doolan tries; Samantha Wood 2, Inga Viscer conv) def ORANGE EMUS CHICKS 12 (Sarah Webster, Sonia Dalla Vecchia tries; Vanessa Foliaki conv)