Tabua Tuinakauvadra has produced a grand final performance that'll take some topping in 2019, bagging four tries in the Vipers' incredible, come-from-behind 32-28 victory over the Wiradjuri Goannas in the Western Women's Rugby League under 18s decider.
Boasting a rare mix of brute power and great speed, Tuinakauvadra picked up her Vipers side and essentially put them on her back after they found themselves down 22-16 early in the second half and lifted them to a memorable win.
The barnstorming forward was nigh-on unstoppable in a high quality game of footy, both side's showing a willingness to promote the ball on the big stage at Carrington Park.
The 16-year-old scored the try that leveled the scores at 28-all inside the final five minutes of the decider and then charged the teal and blacks up field in the next set.
FULL TIME— Nick McGrath (@nickmcgrath4) March 30, 2019
Vipers snatch a BEAUTY of a grand final, Tabua Tuinakauvadra scoring four tries to lift her side over the line 32-28 against a gallant Goannas. #ourway#WWRL#womensrugbyleague#Pantherpride#Group10#Group11#NRLPanthersStormpic.twitter.com/mcggmxX6sW
That run gifted Vipers brilliant field position, and Ella Barrett capped a fine game with the decisive try with just two minutes to go.
The Goannas had a chance late to snatch the lead back, but the Vipers' defence was stoic with the game on the line.
Following the Vipers celebrations, Tuinakauvadra was a deserved winner of the player of the match medal and said her recipe for success is a simple one.
"Run hard and hopefully break the line and go in," she grinned.
... I guess we were just dumb and threw the ball away but once we settled down and played our game we got away with it.Vipers gun Tabua Tuinakauvadra.
The under 18s WWRL premiership was a brilliant spectacle for the whole six weeks and the thrilling decider was a tremendous way to cap the 2019 campaign.
"Definitely, we both came out to play. They were better than us in the first half but we had to work hard," Tuinakauvadra added.
"We definitely had it in us, I guess we were just dumb and threw the ball away but once we settled down and played our game we got away with it."
The Goannas got off to a flier, gun rake Taneka Todhunter scoring early before the Vipers hit back, a lovely cross-field kick from player of the year Kiara Sullivan pounced on by Ebony Webb to get the minor premiers on the board.
The Goannas and Vipers went try-for-try to end the first period, a double from Tuinakauvadra sitting alongside four-pointers from Kiara Singh and Daisy Burns to lock-up the scores at 16-all at the break.
And while Emma Teale opened the scoring for the Goannas early in the second stanza, the final half of the 2019 season belonged to the Vipers wrecking ball.
Still, Shawn Todhunter was thrilled with his side's performance - the only other time these two teams have played this season, the now premiers won fairly comfortably, 42-24.
"They've been the pinnacle all year and I thought we've done really well to get close to them," he said.
"I'm proud of the girls though, they've done well. We had to practice our line speed and our defence and I thought we did that well, we stuck it to them early but a bit of fitness got us in the end."
- VIPERS 32 (Tabua Tuinakauvadra 4, Ella Barrett, Ebony Webb tries; Kiara Sullivan 4 goals) def WIRADJURI GOANNAS 28 (Kiara Singh 2, Taneka Todhunter, Emma Teale, Daisy Burns tries; Emma Teale 3 goals)
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