St Pat’s skipper Mish Somers smiles and she looks anything but bogey monster material.
But Somers and her Bathurst St Pat’s teammates continue to give Orange Hawks plenty of nightmares following a 6-2 victory in the final of the Western Challenge at Canowindra on Sunday.
The four-point margin in the decider of the annual pre-season league tag carnival is the third straight occasion St Pat’s has managed to knock off a very slick Hawks side in a final.
St Pat’s beat the two blues in last year’s Western Challenge final before going on to knock off Hawks in last year’s Group 10 league tag grand final as well.
Sunday’s victory was also St Pat’s third straight win at the Western Challenge, continuing the Bathurst club’s run as the premier league tag outfit in the region.
Somers was thrilled following the victory, Elise Woods scoring the final’s only try before the booming right boot of the St Pat’s skipper added the conversion to seal the win at Tom Clyburn Oval.
“They keep turning up and we turn up and get them in the end,” Somer said of the Hawks-St Pat’s rivalry.
St Pats completes a third successful Western Challenge tournament in a row, knocking off Hawks 6-2 in the final - Elise Woods scored the decisive try.— Nick McGrath (@nickmcgrath4) March 11, 2018
It's the third straight time the Bathurst club has beaten Hawks in a final
“I think we’ve probably got that little bit more experience, but we’ve got some new girls coming through. It’ll be an exciting year.”
St Pat’s emerged undefeated out of pool B, knocking off the Mudgee Dragons, Condobolin Rams, Orange Barbarians and Manildra Rhinos to progress through to the finals unscathed.
Hawks’ progression came out of pool C, while Blayney was the star side to emerge from pool A.
Pool D was the carnival’s closest, with Group 11 outfit Dubbo Westside edging Woodbridge Cup outfit Cargo by the narrowest of margins.
Both sides were undefeated – in their clash they drew 0-all – and both sides emerged from their pool with a differential of plus-44, but the Dubbo club qualified for the semis after scoring 48 points during the day. Cargo scored 46, a final round 22-0 win over Kandos not quite enough to edge past the Rabbitohs.
Westside fell to Hawks in their semi-final hit-out, though, the two blues crossing twice in an 8-0 result while St Pat’s qualified after a faultless 12-0 performance over the Bears.
After a tight opening to the decider, Hawks struck first right on the half-time siren via a Bec Ford penalty goal from just to the right of the uprights.
But that advantage was short-lived.
Mid-way through the second nine-minute half, Elise Woods caught the previously impregnable Hawks defensive line napping to score out wide and edge St Pat’s ahead for the first time.
Somers nailed the conversion attempt five minutes in from touch to take the score to 6-2, where it ultimately stayed as Hawks’ final attempts at a try came up in vain.
Fullback Jakiya Whitfield was outstanding for St Pat’s all tournament, while Hawks star Ella-J Harris took out the challenge’s best and fairest award.
“We ramped it up in the end, our legs were tired there in the last five minutes but the girls got home, which is good,” a pleased Somers added.
Despite finishing the carnival without the win, Hawks coach Marty Lyden was confident his side would take plenty away from the tournament.
“There was one try scored against us in six games of footy. Our defence was great, the best I’ve ever seen it, which is something we’ve been working on a lot,” he added.
“The attack will come, the girls have been fairly busy.
“We went to Young last week and there was six games there and most of the girls are playing tackle too. It’s a massive effort from them.”