Orange Hawks’ coach Jordan Dwyer says a condensed format is the key to the Country Rugby League’s women’s tackle nines kicking off in Western Division.
Hawks completed an undefeated 2017 campaign to be crowned champions after two more impressive wins during the final weekend of competition at Caltex Park, Dubbo, on Saturday.
But what was supposed to be a finals series between four of the best sides in the tournament turned into a three-team round robin after a raft of withdrawals on the morning of the finals.
Dubbo CYMS withdrew on Saturday, while the second-placed Bathurst St Pat’s notified nines organisers of their unavailability for the semi-finals during the week.
Dubbo Macquaire, Wellington and Oberon-Nyngan didn’t play in the consolation finals either.
It meant just Hawks, the Mountain View Misfits – a side made up of players from the Castlereagh League – and Westside Rabbitohs were in action on Saturday.
In wet conditions, Hawks swept to 34-4 and 16-4 wins over the Misfits and Rabbitohs respectively, player of the tournament Sophie Stammers scoring a double across the day to complete a stunning series which has run over seven weeks.
Dwyer believes a shorter, two-week competition will generate more competitive games.
“It is pretty ordinary having teams pull out on the day-of, in their own home town,” he said of CYMS’ withdrawal.
“We would have liked to have played St Pat’s again as well, but you can only play what’s in front of you.
“You could probably hold it over two weekends. That’d be the best way.
“But this is a stepping stone.”
In the final game of the day, Westside shot to an early 4-0 lead before the two blues managed to claw a four-pointer back to draw level with the Dubbo club at 4-all at half-time.
Second-half tries to Ella-J Harris and Stammers, her’s a cracking 70-metre effort skirting down the sideline, lifted the eventual champions to a 12-point triumph.
It was a fiery clash, too, with one Westside player sin binned while Rhianna Sutherland, who helped make up numbers for both the Misfits and the Rabbitohs, was an absolute wrecking ball in defence.
“We don’t have any shrinking violets in our team either,” he laughed.
“That’s part of footy, and they’ll learn. But they stood up for each other and that was pleasing.
“They rattled us in the first half but we regrouped, which was great to see.”
Dwyer said it was great his side was able to cap 2017 with a premiership, after losing the Group 10 league tag grand final to St Pat’s in September.
“Very gutsy little team. As you can see, they’re not very big at all but they’ve handled anything that’s thrown at them,” he added.
“We’ve stuck to our guns and I’m stocked for them.”
Stammers was player of the tournament in the competition’s first competitive running, while St Pat’s gun Meredith Jones scored the most points, her 11 tries netting 44 points. She was also the leading try-scorer.
Jay Ewers (Mountain View Misfits) was deemed the competition’s most improved, while a swag of volunteer awards were handed out as well.
Will Phillips (Orange Hawks), Adam Ryan (Wellington), Greg Larkin and Angela Howe (Mountain View Misfits), Brigette Fernando (Dubbo Westside) and Mick Armstrong (Bathurst St Pat’s) were recognised for their efforts.
- ORANGE HAWKS 34 (Jacky Lyden 2, Emily McDonald 2, Sophie Stammers, Sally Dwyer, Ella-J Harris tries; McDonald 2, Rebecca Ford goals) def MOUNTAIN VIEW MISFITS 4 (Samantha Turnbull try)
- MOUNTAIN VIEW MISFITS 24 (Rhianna Sutherland 3, Tori Canham tries; Sutherland 2, Canham 2 goals) def DUBBO WESTSIDE 8 (Tarlee Roberts, Jinnaya Tyson tries)
- ORANGE HAWKS 16 (Sophie Stammers, Lailee Phillips, Ella-J Harris tries; McDonald 2 goals) def DUBBO WESTSIDE 4