Wests have earned themselves a sudden-death chance at the table-topping Butcher Birds, after edging club rivals Souths 12-10 in the opening round of the Newcastle Rugby League women’s finals.
The Rosellas, who finished in third behind the Lionesses and a near-undefeated Central outfit, opened the scoring in the 9th minute through Sarah Ross. Kristy Houghton extended their lead with two penalty kicks in the 23rd and 33rd minutes.
Jacqueline Moriarty was able to find Souths their first points in the 39th minute, barging over the line after Maddie Scullion had come within inches of her own four-pointer moments earlier. Amy Waterhouse added the extras.
Each side had one last try in them at Townson Oval, with Rhianni Cipta scoring for the Rosellas and Chloe Rich adding four for the Lionesses. The tries added four each for the teams, and Houghton’s conversions proved the difference.
Rosellas boss Chris Stephens said he was very pleased with the “special” win his girls were able to chalk up over their club rivals in the qualifying final.
“It was a hard-fought win, it felt good to get over the top of Souths who have really been one of the best sides in the comp,” he said.
“The girls dug deep. It was a special win. We’re all really pumped, the rivalry always comes out and makes it mean that little bit extra. The Souths and Wests girls are close friends off the field, but once the footy starts there’s no love lost there.”
The two-point win now sets up Wests for another titanic challenge in the form of the Butcher Birds. Stephens is confident in his squad, however, especially considering they’re finally back to full strength after a rugged 2019 season.
“Central is a top-notch side so they’re going to be tough to beat. For us, last time we played them we were a little under-done too,” he explained.
“That’s not to take anything away from them though, we know their strengths and we’re expecting it to be a real ripper of a game. Central are a really young and fit side, but if we can do the same as we did to Souths, I think we can hold them off.”
While Wests and Central clash at Harker Oval next weekend, Souths drop into an elimination final against the victorious Lakes squad.
The Seagulls won a tight battle against the fifth-placed Kurri Kurri Bulldogs on Saturday morning at the Maitland Sportsground. Ainsley Hughes slotting four goals and scoring a try to lead Lakes to their 20-16 triumph.
Central will face Wests at Harker Oval at 9.40am on Saturday morning, while Souths and Lakes will contest their semi-final at 10am on the same day.