After missing the National Women’s Championship with an ankle injury, Isabelle Kelly was clearly eager to prove she hadn’t lost any of the spark that had seen her named the best women’s player in the world for 2018.
Unfortunately for the South Sydney Rabbitohs, they lay in Kelly’s path as she looked to make that statement at Metricon High Performance Centre. The hat trick she dropped on them in just nineteen minutes may not have been the only reason the Bunnies lost in Round 13 of the Women’s Premiership, but it might be the main thing they remember.
Kelly’s first came off a perfect set-up from Howard, as the halfback took on the back-pedalling Rabbitohs line in the 40th minute. Once the Souths defenders had been sucked in, she set Kelly off down the left flank, and Newcastle’s superstar centre made the final fifteen metres with ease.
In what has become her trademark in recent times, Kelly’s second and third – just six minutes apart as evening fell over the Metricon Centre – were both solo efforts close to the line. The rampaging Jillaroo cut through Souths’ defensive line, powering on to claim two four-pointers in quick succession. Both times, Rabbitohs were still littered over her as she scored.
Earlier, both Hannah Southwell and Alicia Martin had crossed to open the scoring for Newcastle, while Melanie Howard slotted home both the early conversion opportunities to give the CRL-backed squad a 12-point lead early.
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Moniqca Mo’Ale got the Rabbitohs on the board minutes into the second half, and Candice Clay’s goal kick cut the difference to just six-points after Newcastle had been rampant in the first half. Then Kelly was unleashed, and it was all over in South Sydney.
The 18-point victory keeps Newcastle just a single win behind the Mounties and the Bears, both of whom have lost just once in 2019.
North Sydney slipped from atop the Premiership standings after an 8-6 upset victory last weekend. Ashlee Harrison’s penalty kick in the 45th minute was all that split them and the victorious Saints.
The Women’s Premiership has a bye round this weekend due to the State of Origin fixture. The representative New South Wales vs Queensland contest will be held at North Sydney Oval on Friday, June 21.