It was all one-way traffic at Dudley Oval as CRL Newcastle rolled over the West Tigers in the opening round of the NSW Women’s Premiership in 2019.
The Novocastrian outfit, who have been bolstered by the return of a number of NRL Womens superstars in the new season, clocked up four unanswered tries and two conversion goals in the 20-0 victory, and put their first win under the watchful eye of ex-Knights head coach Rick Stone on the board.
It was veteran hooker Kylie Hilder that kicked off the strong win, shouldering past two Tigers defenders to cross the stripe with two defenders hanging off her in the opening minute of the home match for the Knights.
Things turned from bad to worse for the travelling Tigers just minutes later, as Olivia Higgins threw a bullet pass to fullback Claire Reed, who put the step on defending Jessie Wharepouri to find a break in the line. Despite Botille Vette-Welsh sliding over to plug the hole, a three-on-two advantage meant Reed could casually lay her pass off to Skye Mckenzie, who cruised in for the second just four minutes in.
Melanie Howard kicked both conversions off the back of the early tries to put Newcastle in a commanding lead, and the 12-nil score held firm until Alicia Martin and Isabelle Kelly combined for a moment of magic.
A lofted pass from halfback Howard put Martin into a gap on the left wing, but the scrambling defence of the Tigers nearly locked her out entirely. Reaching out of the tackle, the winger handed the chance off to current Golden Boot holder Kelly, who had three Wests defenders between her and the line.
It’s a position she’s used to being in however, and two steps and a crunching tackle-breaker saw her smash past the three opponents to push Newcastle’s lead out to a 16 point margin.
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Although she was denied earlier, Martin wasn’t to be kept out for the match, as Kelly and Newcastle’s left winger combined again for an end-to-end try that saw Kelly hit the line and send her Country rep winger straight in in the corner. The conversion was unsuccessful from the sideline, but the 20 point margin was more than enough to send the Tigers packing at Dudley Oval on Saturday afternoon.
The victory puts CRL Newcastle into the winners’ circle for the first time in 2019, alongside Cabramatta and the Mounites and Bears. The Rabbitohs have also chalked up 4 points in the season after two straight byes, and are level with the four winning teams.
Cabramatta currently leads the competition after the first round of games after their 48-4 win over Brothers at New Era Stadium. Newcastle sits in third due to point difference.
This weekend will see Newcastle face off against the Mounties in their first game on the road. They will play the second placed team on Saturday, March 30, from 6.30pm at Aubrey Keech Reserve.
Rick Stone has already named his squad for the upcoming battle. The Newcastle coach has made just one change to his starting XI, with Amy Broadhead taking the fullback jersey in the third round. Leticia Quinlan has also been named in the extended reserves, replacing Alyssa Tai.
CRL Newcastle team list, Round 3: Amy Broadhead, Stacey Markham, Skye McKenzie, Isabelle Kelly, Alicia Martin, Olivia Higgins, Melanie Howard, Rebecca Young, Kylie Hilder, Emma Young, Holli Wheeler, Hannah Southwell, Sophie Buller; Tazmyne Luschwitz, Tayla Predebon, Priscilla Tremain, Magaret Watson, Georgia Smyth, Leticia Quinlan.