AMY Symons might have been like a 'raging bull' in defence for the Central West AFL women, but their efforts - and a star, three-goal performance from Bushrangers' Beth Durham, wasn't enough to get them over the line in their inaugural representative match.
Instead it was hosts Sapphire Coast who finished full of running at Nowra on Saturday, coming from behind to snatch a 7-2-42 to 5-6-36 victory.
Central West held the edge on the scoreboard for much of the match, a treble of majors from Durham plus goals from Bathurst Giants duo Brooke Alexander and Mariah Gilchrist seeing the Eagles with a 14-point lead heading into the final change.
But the physical challenge of playing 18-minute quarters told.
As the clock kicked down, Sapphire Coast delivered the ball over the heads of the Central West defenders into their forward 50. Even then it took a major grubbered off the ground to sink the visitors.
"It was awesome and a little bit nail-biting," Eagles coach Jayarna Kay said.
"I think when you don't normally play that long in a game, the girls are used to 15 minute quarters, the girls just got tired.
"In the last quarter it showed, we just couldn't keep up, and I think Sapphire Coast are just natural runners, they ran all over us in the last quarter.
"The girls just gave it everything, there was not much else they could do. We had a couple of injuries as well, players had to come off that last quarter. Tamara Thompson did her ankle and one of our backs Korine [Coleman] from Parkes, she got knocked in the nose and ended up with a pretty bloody nose."
Kay, a former Tiger, said the current crop of Orange players - led by skipper Amy Symons - stood up to the challenge.
Amy [Symons] of course our captain, she was just a voice the whole game, she protected out butts. She comes out of that back line like a raging bull, attacks the footy, and you know she's got you back.Central West coach Jayarna Kay
"Jacqui Harris was one of our key players, Jemma Neuman was also really handy there, she was playing up in the centre half back line, then we pulled her into the centre to give Katie Kennedy a bit of a rest.
"We had See Lindsay in the ruck and her taps were just spot on, we rested her with Beth Durham.
"Amy [Symons] of course our captain, she was just a voice the whole game, she protected out butts. She comes out of that back line like a raging bull, attacks the footy, and you know she's got you back."
While beaten, Kay and her co-coach Luke Le Page were proud of the debut performance.
Prior to the representative fixture, the Central West outfit only had two training sessions. But they also bonded via social media and when on the field, had what Kay labelled 'a buddy system' for rotations.
It saw the midfielders, wingers and players across centre-half-back swapping in and out to help them get on top.
Central West did not conceded a single point in the first term and even after Sapphire Coast rallied in the second quarter, Kay's side led 3-2-20 to 2-1-13 at the long break.
The Eagles won the third quarter as well, but fatigue told in the end.
"You wouldn't even think, you wouldn't even pick it that these girls only came together two weeks ago. Yes they've played against each other, but they've never had to gel as a team," Kay said.
"The way they played today, you would have thought they'd been playing together all season."
The way they played today, you would have thought they'd been playing together all season.Central West coach Jayarna Kay
Though Kay praised her entire squad, Durham's effort was a special one. She started at full forward, but given her height she was also rotated into the ruck to give Orange's Seeanna Lindsay a break.
"Beth actually was pretty consistent the whole game, she performed at her best, so therefore she got best and fairest for the day. It was good to see Beth come from full forward into the ruck, she was consistently amazing the whole game," Kay said.
"All of the girls were outstanding, it was hard to pick best and fairest at the end of the day, but Beth was just a class act. Watching her play was pretty exciting."
SAPPHIRE COAST 7-2-42 defeated CENTRAL WEST 5-6-36 (Beth Durham 3, Mariah Gilchrist, Brooke Alexander)
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