THE Blayney Bears have grizzled to the club’s first Group 10 premiership since 1999 after a thrilling 7-6 league tag victory in the wet at Wade Park.
They were one-two in the Group 10 player of the year votes, and Sophie Stammers and champion Liv Bird came up with the big plays in a corker of a clash with defending champs Bathurst St Pat’s.
Stammers scored her sides only try, bursting on to a pass from sister Hannah to race into the back field, then burn Australian University Sevens gun Darcie Morrison on the outside to score a grand final four-pointer to savour.
St Pat’s got back into the the game thanks to a 100m special from Bronte Emanuel and subsequent Mish Somers conversion to snatch a 6-4 lead.
Then it was all over to Liv Bird.
With Blayney awarded a penalty 10m out just to the right of the sticks, the 2016 player of the year slotted the two points, then, on the next set of six, marched her side up field before potting the match-winning field goal.
Steve Mooney’s side defended the house down for the entire 50 minutes, so it came as no surprise to see the maroon and whites hold firm with five to go to secure the title.
“It means so much,” fullback Sophie Stammers said, her try a scintillating display of pace.
“It felt good (to score). My sister passed it to me, so that was cool. I wasn’t confident (of going around Morrison). I was actually looking for Han on the inside, but she had no tags.”
Stammers said Bird’s field goal was a shock too – albeit a worthwhile one.
“We didn’t know she was going to do it,” she laughed.
“She just did it, but it worked out well.”
Steve Mooney was over the moon at full-time.
"It keeps Blayney on the map ... they'll be a good side for a long time.
“The best part about it was their defence today,” he said.
“St Pat’s had probably 70 per cent of the ball and we just hung in and hung in ... we frustrated them out of it.”
Unlike Stammers, Mooney knew exactly what Bird had planned with the game on the line.
The now premiership-winning coach said the one-pointer was always in the works, a play that has the small-town Group 10 club “on the map”.
15 | TRYYYY. Sophie Stammers takes on Morrissey in the back field and burns her on the outside to score. Crowd goes wild. 4-0 Bears #Group10— Nick McGrath (@nickmcgrath4) September 17, 2016
“The girls are keeping the club going. They do a lot of the work in the canteen and they’re just good kids. Young too. They’ll be a good side for a long time,” he added.
St Pat’s mentor Mick Armstrong said a dominant period in the opening half where his side just couldn’t quite crack the Bears defence proved telling.
“We had a lot of ball in the first 15 minutes and just couldn’t convert it. It was going to be one of those days where the game was always going to be close,” he said.
BLAYNEY BEARS 7 (Sophie Stammers try; Liv Bird goal; Liv Bird field goal) def BATHURST ST PAT’S 6 (Bronte Emanuel try; Mish Somers goal)