A gutsy fightback by the Cobar Roosterettes to beat the Lightning Ridge Redbacks 20-14 in the Barwon Darling Cup Ladies League Tag grand final on Sunday saw the Cobar team claim the winners’ plate for the second successive season.
After finishing the season undefeated, the Roosterettes went into the grand final game as favourites however late last week Roosterettes’ coach Rachel Garland was forced to adopt a new game plan when captain Zoë Harland (who is the team’s main kicker) suffered a serious off field back injury which looked like ruling her out of the grand final.
While Harland did warm up and led her side onto the paddock on Sunday, she wasn’t however able to play.
Harland’s usual kicking duties were taken over by Brianna Watson who had a massive game to earn the Ronny Gibbs Player of the Grand Final award.
A number of Roosterettes players, including playmaker Lisa Travis, were also nursing niggling injuries ahead of Sunday’s grand final, but they fought on and the team was rewarded with their second successive premiership.
Lightning Ridge dominated possession in the first half and the Cobar side found it hard to contain their opposition’s enthusiasm.
The Ridge scored early after finding space out on the wing to take a 4-0 lead.
The Cobar girls rallied and fought back with relentless defence from Bianka Jacobson, Tyler Chiswick, Jenna Fullagar and Travis with Naomi Whitehurst doing a great job in directing her team from the rear.
Fullagar, Travis and Watson were also working hard in attack to get the Roosterettes within striking distance of their line.
Laura Ah-See was first to cross for the Roosterettes and level the score at 4-all.
The Ridge’s captain Maria Nagy, (undoubtedly one of the best players in the league) strolled over to score under the posts and the subsequent easy conversion gave the Redbacks a 10-4 lead.
Nagy was doing a brilliant job of directing her side around the field with The Ridge dominating possession and it wasn’t long before they scored again out wide to stretch their lead to 14-4.
A number of penalties against the now cocky Redbacks put the Roosterettes back down in their attacking zone and, after The Ridge defenders fell for a dummy pass from Travis, she burst through under the posts to score.
It was a simple conversion for Watson which narrowed the deficit to 10-14 just before the half time break.
After getting feedback from Coach Garland, Harland and Travis at the break, the Roosterettes put in a brilliant second half performance to dominate possession and keep the Redbacks scoreless.
They scored two more tries through Watson (which she also converted) and Ah-See scored her second in the final minute of the game to seal the 20-14 win for the Roosterettes.
Watson collected the Ronny Gibbs Player of the Grand Final award and was also named the season’s Best & Fairest Player and the Highest Try Scorer.