Bathurst St Pat's reign as the premier league tag outfit in Western Division shows no signs of slowing after a five-star outing from young fullback Erin Naden helped the blue and whites claim another Western Challenge crown on Sunday.
St Pat's stormed to the finals on the back of an undefeated run through pool A of the challenge before knocking off familiar rivals Blayney in the semi-finals 14-4.
Faced with new-comers Dubbo CYMS in the decider, the blue and white wall was at its miserly best and despite the Fishies boasting Australian touch football representative Madison Crowe in 2019 the Group 11 giants couldn't muster up a point in the grand final.
Tries from St Pat's recruits Hannah Kelly and Elysse Girot shot out the defending champions to an 8-0 lead before Bronte Emanuel burst through to put Sarah Watterson over, sealing the club a 12-0 victory and its fourth-straight Western Challenge crown.
🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆— Nick McGrath (@nickmcgrath4) March 17, 2019
Bathurst St Pats claims a fifth Western Challenge crown with with a 12-0 win over Dubbo CYMS, adding the 2019 title to victories in 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2012.
These St Pats girls rule @WesternRams, there's no two ways about it 😇😇😇#Group10#Group11pic.twitter.com/PHtkn4WOAa
That pre-season dominance has translated into success on the big stage, too, with St Pat's winning Group 10 league tag titles in 2017 and 2018 before claiming the inaugural Western Premiers Challenge against Parkes last September.
Naden was tremendous at fullback for the blue and whites and the player of the match award in the 12-point final win was as much a reward for a brilliant tournament as it was for her efforts in the decider.
Emanuel, too, was terrific as the Bathurst juggernaut continues to roll, claiming trophy after trophy and strengthening a bond that's proving near unbreakable.
"I don't know, we don't do a pre-season ... we've had two weeks at training. I think it's just the fact the group gets along so well, that works in our favour," Emanuel said.
The 2019 crown is St Pat's fourth-straight but a fifth in total, with victory in 2012 as well.
It sets a platform for the year ... we've got a few new faces so it's a good chance to get togetherSt Pat's gun Bronte Emanuel.
"We haven't played Dubbo CYMS before, we've heard they're a strong team and watching their semi they were good, they can move and work well as a team so we had to dig in," she added.
"Ezza was great at the back. She starts off our sets so well, she's so strong and so quick and we're so lucky to have her back there."
St Pat's knocked off Grenfell (22-6), Orange Barbarians (30-0) and Molong Bulls (40-0) to qualify for the finals.
While 2019 was the Fishies' first trip to Tom Clyburn Oval for the annual pre-season event, the Dubbo club beating Trundle Boomers (22-0) and Canowindra (22-0) before a 4-all draw with their Group 10 brethren Orange CYMS.
That drawn result was enough for the Fishies to progress to the finals thanks to a pool-best plus-44 differential, and a 20-0 win over Woodbridge Cup champions Cargo signaled the Group 11 club's intentions in the final.
But St Pat's proved their class, as they've done now for the best part of half-a-decade.
"It sets a platform for the year," Emanuel said of the win.
"It's a good hit-out, we've got a few new faces so it's a good chance to get together."
Dubbo CYMS mentor Chicka Merritt was thrilled with his side's start to 2019.
"We loved it. It was a good hit-out after a hard pre-season. It was good to get off the training paddock and onto the playing field to see where we're at," he said.
CYMS' best throughout the carnival was Crowe, her speed and ball-playing ability a highlight for the Fishies after moving to Dubbo from the Central Coast this season.
"We're so thankful she's on our side because we've lost Majayda Darcy to Oberon and we've gained Alahna Ryan from Nyngan but she broke her foot playing Rams," Merritt added, Hawks back Haley Butcherine also joining the Dubbo club in 2019.
"We're in for a good year. We'll come back bigger and stronger next year."