Central’s undefeated streak may not be over yet, but the Bulldogs came close in their 6-all draw with the league leaders on Sunday morning at Kurri Kurri Sportsground.
Sharneakia Nikora put Kurri Kurri ahead in the first half, after the pacey centre latched onto a long-ranged kick and crossed the line for the opening four-pointer of the clash. Holly Fisher-Webster added the extras, and put the Bulldogs in control early.
The home side was able to hold on to their six-point lead until the second half, when the league’s leading tryscorer Teagan Glover scored her tenth of the season. Blanche Morrissey – who leads the competition on goals scored with 21 – levelled the game with her conversion kick.
Kurri Kurri were swelled by new recruit Robyn Draper slotting into the halves alongside Fisher-Webster. Draper shone in her debut as she took on a supporting role alongside the already-embed Bulldogs half. She was named player’s player in the draw.
“Robyn did what she needed to do and she took a lot of the pressure off Holly which was what we needed her to do. It was her first game for us so she was a bit nervous, but I thought she was fantastic,” Martin said.
“It looks like we’ve finally found a halves combination that we can stick with for the rest of the season, touch wood. Every time we seem to get players back or get players on board, something happens and we have to move the lineup around again.”
According to Martin, if the Kurri Kurri squad can fix up “small one-percenters” in their game alongside next week’s returning reinforcements in the form of captain Olivia Warren and representative star Alisha Romaniuk, they can challenge for a postseason position as the pointy end of the season looms.
In the 6-all draw, five second-half penalities – more than the side has given away in any one full game this season – stifled their chances, while Glover being given the opportunity to run in-field for her try to be converted changed the game.
“It’s the little one-percenters that we have to get over, because we aren’t far off being that competitive force,” Martin said. “Last time we played Central we competed until the end, and now we’ve drawn them and we even could have won.
“That’s the only disappointing thing from the game on Sunday, if we can get those small things focussed then I think we’re going to be able to be challenging right up until the end of the season, and we’ll have a chance against the form-teams.”
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One such form-team in Lakes looms this weekend for the Bulldogs. The third-placed team just defeated Maitland 14-4 to string together their fourth straight victory, and sit just two points ahead of Kurri Kurri in the standings.
“I think Lakes have been fantastic, and they’re going to be a real test of what we can achieve in the second half of the season,” Martin said.
“Between Lakes, who are just above us, and Maitland, who are just below us, we have a few pretty key weeks for our season coming up. The confidence from the Central game will hold us in good stead, and I believe the girls can get the job done.”
While Lakes downed Maitland elsewhere in Round 10, Wests rolled on with a strong victory over the Scorpions at Peacock Field, and ten points from Amy Waterhouse at Salamander Bay sparked a 24-4 win for Souths against Nelson Bay on Saturday.
STANDINGS: Central (21), Wests (18), Lakes, Souths (16), Kurri (15), Maitland (12), Nelson Bay (8), Cessnock, Macquarie (4).