Central West’s bid for back-to-back NSW Country Rugby Union Women’s Sevens Championships came to a gutting end in Sunday morning’s semi-final at Warren’s Victoria Park, before the Blue Bullettes were downed in a partly-abandoned third place play-off to ultimately finish fourth.
After running through the opening day undefeated to top their pool, Central West was bested by a free-flowing Mid North Coast side that, to be frank, played with gay abandon to knock the reigning champions off 22-10.
That forced Central West into a bronze medal match-up with Central North, which was beaten by Newcastle-Hunter in the semi-finals.
The Blue Bullettes led 5-0 but fell behind 7-5 just after half-time, before a Central North injury wound the clock down to zero – there is no time off for injuries.
“It’s disappointing, a bit hollow too the way the third-place play-off finished,” Central West co-coach Greg Horton said.
“We hope the Central North player is okay, of course, you don’t want to see anyone get hurt, but we obviously would’ve liked a crack at those last seven minutes or so.
“That’s the way it goes though and all these girls are in the 15-a-side team too, so they’ll get another opportunity in a couple of weeks at that championship.”
The semi-final loss also brought the region’s dream of a cleansweep, triple crown to an end.
The bad luck began straight away in the semi-final when Sharnah Stevens, last year’s player of the tournament, was sin-binned for a high tackle in the first minute.
Mid North Coast promptly scored, and although the Blue Bulls held them out until Stevens returned the Thunder posted the next two tries as well to take a 15-0 lead into the half-time break.
One minute into the second half a Mid North Coast’s Lauren Linton was yellow-carded, and Kensha Stevens dived over for Central West. Sharnah Stevens’ try two minutes later gave Central West a sniff, but Mid North Coast landed the final blow with a converted try on the full-time whistle.
In the third-place play-off Alyza Doulis scored for the Blue Bullettes in the opening minute and that lead could've been bigger but for knock-ons over the try-line.
Central West led 5-0 at the break before Central North scored from the restarted, where the score stayed.
“The yellow card that early in the semi-final didn’t help at all, obviously, but we just outplayed really,” Horton said.
“Mid North Coast played tough, they came at us the way we wanted to go at them.
“We’ll be back next year to try and win that title back.”
On day one Central West went through the pool stage undefeated with wins over Western Plains (37-0), Central Coast (12-5) and Central North (20-7).