Eight up, to two down, and in the final minutes… “yeah, ouch.” That’s the first thing Annika Jamieson could muster when talking to the Women’s Chronicle following the Wildfires’ third-round loss to Campbelltown on the road.
The Hunter’s representative rugby side looked primed to score their first chocolates in the Jack Scott Cup on Saturday afternoon. Liz Kennedy had struck early, just 19 minutes into the clash with Campbelltown. Adam Dubois’ ladies had a five-point lead.
Melbourne Rebels star Ashleigh Walker — who was in doubt right up until the bell heading into the third-round contest — kicked a penalty goal 16 minutes later to give Hunter a well-earned 8–nil lead.
“Things were looking good,” Jamieson said, “but it was just those last few minutes. There were a few odd calls, yeah, but we all have admitted there was a lot more the team could have done in the first hour of play too, I think.”
Rima Pirini Butler crossed in the 66th minute to slice the Wildfires’ advantage to just three points.
Minutes later, Walker was hit for what seemed like a penalty tackle off the ball. The whistle went, but it was against the Wildfires. The call, they learned later, was for dissent after the whistle. It set Campbelltown up for a last-gasp set play.
The home side delivered on it too. Pandora Visesio barrelled over on the edge in the 70th minute, and sealed Campbelltown’s second-half comeback.
On the other hand, the 10–8 loss damned Hunter to another week waiting for their opening win. It was “heartbreaking” to cop, Jamieson admitted, especially after leading for so long and “firing up” in the third-round clash.
“We were battling on all fronts, but considering everything that happened in the game and how the muddy field was, the girls had an absolute cracker out there,” she said.
“One thing that we learned was that when calls go against you, or aren’t quite what you expect, you have to just get on with it. We struggled to adjust on the fly to what the refs were saying, and I think that’s something we can work on.
“So many girls stepped up, especially the young girls. Body on the line, every time.
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“There’s one girl for us, Mackenzie Young, she played out of her skin. Little Jorja Holden did really well too, and new Hunter girl Kaitlan Leaney packed at eight for us for the first time and showed that she can do a cracking job.”
Kayla Waldron, Sophie Clancy, the Clay combo of Tammy and Candice, try scorer Kennedy, and Jamieson herself were also among the best on park for Hunter on the weekend.
Despite the heartbreaking loss, Jamieson could only praise her Wildfire teammates. The whole squad “bounced back immediately” as they headed back north to Newcastle.
“These girls are really lively, bubbling all the time and just chatting and having a great time on the coach. After the game everyone was quiet for a bit, but we started talking about what we needed to work on, and then it was fun again,” she said.
“This is one of the best groups of girls I’ve played with, honestly. It’s so fun to have the mix of youngsters that are keen each and every week just to get out there and have a whack, alongside faces I’ve played with for a long time.
“I think we’ve got that drive now. We got so close to what we were aiming for — a proper win — so it’s going to take a lot to stop us from achieving that now.
“We know what we have to do. We’ve learned a hard lesson, and we’re better for it.”