Wests bounced back from a loss to arch-rivals Souths last weekend in style, piling on a half-ton at Kurri Kurri Sports Ground to keep their hunt for a top-four Blues Tag finish in the shortened 2020 Newcastle Rugby League season alive.
The Rosellas got off to a flying start early, and didn’t let the pressure up as they ran in ten tries in the Round 7 meeting. Wests centers Grace Gallagher and Rhianni Cipta shone in the clash, with Gallagher claiming a hat-trick as Cipta scored twice.
Kristy Houghton also kicked in ten points for the haul, converting five from the tee.
The win was a “big one” for Wests in their hunt for top-four, head coach Matty Atkinson told the Women’s Chronicle, not least of all after Wests came unstuck against rivals Souths in a 14-point battle at Harker Oval in the sixth round.
The loss left the Rosellas floating just outside that all-important four-team huddle at the top, and set them a target: win three from three, and collect the two points from the bye, to close out the season. “It’s what we have to do,” Atkinson said.
After this weekend, they’re 33 percent of the way there. The victory over the Bulldogs pips Wests back to a 4–3 record, after they dropped to 0.500 last weekend.
“Because of where we are, we only have a few games left and the bye, that makes it a little harder for us to make that top four,” the Wests coach said. “That’s exactly what we want to do though, that Wyong forfeit has hurt a little, but I think we can do it.”
The Rosellas have been hit with a handful of injuries throughout the 2020 season, and have had a similar fate to every club playing through the ‘COVID season.’ That’s not going to stop the ladies in red and green “having a great crack” though, Atkinson added.
“I think we’re as good as any of the teams in the top four on our day, they’re all playing really well and are looking good, but we’re right there with them.
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“We know where we’re sitting on the ladder, and what we need to come up with, and the girls definitely have it in them. We’ve shown we can score now, and to keep Kurri to nil was great for our ‘D’ too. We’ll clinch that final 2–0 and see where we’re at.”
The Rosellas were also helped on their quest for fourth by two of their finals rivals beneath them on the ladder copping Round 7 losses. Lakes were downed 24–4 by defending champs Central, and Maitland beat Nelson Bay by 22 points in Tomaree.
Elsewhere in the seventh round, Wyong — who could be one of the main adversaries for Wests when it comes down to that final top-four spot — got up 66–nil over Cessnock down on the Central Coast to retain their third-place position.
Holly Buchanan was lethal for the Roos, scoring twice and kicking seven of the team’s 11 goals. Olivia Glanville added three more from the kicking tee, while Kelsey Clark racked up a home hat-trick in the pile-on at Morry Breen Oval on Sunday morning.
Souths, who are currently leading the NRL Blues Tag competition, were handed two free points thanks to their seventh-round bye on the weekend.
STANDINGS: Souths, Maitland (14), Wyong, Central (10), Wests (8), Nelson Bay (6), Lakes, Cessnock (4), Kurri Kurri (0).