Last year, CRL Newcastle were nigh unstoppable as they marched to a state title at Bankwest Stadium. This year, they may be wearing different colours — red & blue has been replaced by the Roosters’ tricolours — but that same Newy pack are still proving they’re without a doubt the competition’s heavyweight contenders.
The Central Coast Roosters, laced with a hefty host of Novocastrian and Hunter stars, claimed the NSW minor premiership on Sunday afternoon. They charged through a Kirra Dibb-led North Sydney Bears, 16–6, to claim the league’s top spot.
The victory was a crowning moment of a season full of explosive victories, stunning player performances, and individual moments of brilliance that sealed tough games.
It was that same energy that got them over the line at Morrie Breen Oval in the final round of the regular season; Jayme Fressard in particular put up a game-breaking performance as she crossed twice in the three tries to one tussle.
Newcastle mastermind Kylie Hilder was the first to put her touches on the game, however, dodging through the Bears’ pack to find an unmarked Tayla Predebon close to the line. Her Newy teammate crashed over, opening the scoring.
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It was another Hunter representative, Mel Howard, that kicked the extras too. The star Newy playmaker shone with the boot on Sunday, sealing two conversions, and putting Fressard through for both her Round 7 tries.
The Newy-led chooks have been the leading force in the NSW Women’s Premiership so far this season, winning five and drawing once since the comp returned in mid-July.
Most of the Central Coast core were poached from the now-defunct CRL Newcastle outfit that won last year’s competition. That includes 2018 Golden Boot winner Isabelle Kelly, and NRLW stars Hannah Southwell, Bobbi Law, Howard, and Caitlan Johnston.
Kylie Hilder, who announced she would be hanging up her boots in 2020 to focus on coaching, backflipped on her decision, and rejoined the team as hooker for the year.
Newcastle and CRL stars Fressard, Brydie Parker, Alicia Martin, Predebon, Jocelyn Kelleher, Olivia Higgins, and Olivia Kernick are also included in the Central Coast squad.
Central Coast now sits on the sidelines for a week in the opening round of finals. The Cronulla Sharks, who finished 5–1 over the course of the season, will also enjoy a break.
The Roosters won’t be resting on their laurels though; North Sydney face South Sydney in the opening playoff battle, while the Tigers and the Bulldogs will lock horns in the second clash at Campbelltown Stadium this Saturday. Central Coast will be watching.
The Newcastle squad’s finals campaign will then begin on Saturday, September 12.