The spirit of CRL Newcastle lived on in the NSW Women’s Premiership decided, as a Central Coast Roosters outfit bursting at the seams with Newcastle and Hunter talent clinched the 2020 title with a 16–10 win over the North Sydney Bears on Sunday.
Port Stephens product Bobbi Law drew first blood in the high-stakes contest at Bankwest Stadium, smashing Bears hooker Lacey Shields to create her own chance at the try line. She didn’t miss her chance, nor did she miss the kick moments later.
Moniqca Mo’ale was able to answer back for the Bears soon after, and Chloe Leaupepe kicked the conversion chance to square the score.
Another CRL Newcastle alum, Claire Reed, would go on to score twice, before being forced from the field with fifteen minutes to go. Her double would prove key in the six-point win, with North Sydney only able to muster up once more try ahead of full-time.
It was a huge game from Newcastle halves pivot Mel Howard too, who ran the game from the center of the park. Howard put her name on the scoresheet with a penalty kick, slotting it home in the dying moments of the match.
Reed, who had to fight through fifteen “very nervy” minutes on the sideline after being pulled off a precaution for her ankle, told the Chronicle it felt “really special” to win the NSW state title again, especially considering the circumstances.
“That’s one we won’t forget for a long time I think, winning at the end of what has been a pretty hard year considering everything,” two-try hero Reed admitted.
The Central Coast star had to watch as the Bears crossed the line twice in the same set with just three minutes left on the clock. The Roosters’ defence dug deep, however, to keep them from grounding the ball. Their one-try lead, earned by Reed, stuck.
“Look, I was up and down on the sideline in the last couple of minutes, I didn’t really know what to do and watching was really hard,” she laughed.
“I knew that the girls had it covered though, really, it’s something we’ve been working on all year and I just had a feeling that North Sydney weren’t going to score. They gave it a good go, credit to them, but I knew our girls weren’t going to give up.”
Part of the reason this year was awesome, Reed explained, wasn’t just the six-point win she and the team claimed at Bankwest Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The whole team really “clicked” right at the start of the year. In fact, the Central Coast winger says, it may just be “the best team I’ve ever had the privilege of playing with… everyone just got on so well, we were a family. It meant so much to win with them.”
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And win they did; the Roosters won five of their six regular-season fixtures, and only dropped points in a 10–10 draw with the Magpies in Round 5. The team scored a lofty 122 points in the two-month tournament, and let in just 34 in reply.
“It was an amazing season, it’s a shame it was so short!” Claire laughed.
Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 situation, and a host of the Central Coast stars heading straight to their respective NRLW club bubbles, the Roosters’ celebrations have been put on hold. There’s plans to crack out the champagne in December.
Reed says she’ll be cheering on her Roosters teammates as they play through the third season of the women’s national top-flight league. She hopes to be alongside them soon enough too: “I’d love to be playing in the NRLW.”
“The NRLW is something that I’ve definitely been aiming for so far,” she admitted.
“I would have loved to be part of something this season, but I’ll just keep working on my skills and my role as an individual. Hopefully with a big offseason and then going into next year I might know myself better, and be playing even better.
“If I can do that, I think I can crack into one of the NRLW squads. It’s what every girl plays for, so it’s definitely what I’m working towards in my rugby league career.”