Easts-University have levelled their season’s record against Merewether, after defeating the Greens at Townson Oval in the NHRU Women’s Premiership’s sixth round.
The close game between the two clubs battling for third on the ladder came down to “metre-eater” breaks from two stand-outs for the combined venture – centre Katie Sampford and half-back Ashleigh Walker.
According to player-coach Brooke Saunders, who herself has been sidelined with an ongoing injury, the rampaging duo “just kept getting [the team] distance, and putting us into space.” The pressure of the back-pedalling defence allowed Easts-Uni the chance to get on top, and Isabelle Warry was the first to take advantage.
Warry, who also kicked two of the five possible conversions for the winning team on Saturday afternoon, scored first for Easts-Uni. Sampford also benefitted from the breaks, notching two tries of her own off the runs.
“Katie and Ashleigh were two of the best on field for us against the Greens, we had a lot of focus on team play heading into the game but those two were just consistently breaking through the defence and carving up position on the field,” Saunders said of the duo’s efforts.
“Our plan heading into the fixture was for all the girls in our team to figure out their one-percenter plays, and bring that together for a big 22-player unit to work across the park. We really built on that with the win, and then Katie and Ashleigh were making these major breaks, and just kept making them. It gave us an avenue to get ahead.”
Merewether were able to find their own way across the tryline twice in the 17-point contest as well, with Jactina Soe scoring both for the Greens. Danielle Freund slotted one of the two chances for the home side in their 12-point haul.
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With the combined venture levelling their record at 3-3, Saunders knows the club’s battle against the Hawks next week is going to be a major trial for the newly combined roster. If they can get over the Hamilton hurdle, they may be in with a fighting chance come the tail end of the 2019 premiership season.
“It’s taken us a few weeks to gel, but now all the girls have come together from both clubs really well, and we’re developing a great team bond. It’s all coming out on the field with strong structures and plays, and that’s going to help us a lot going forward,” Saunders said to the Chronicle after her side’s third win of the year.
Also on Saturday afternoon, Hamilton stretched their winning streak to five with a 24-7 victory over Maitland at Passmore Oval. Nicole Nathan continued her purple patch of tryscoring form with two more against the Blacks, while Jorja Holden scored the travelling team’s lone five-pointer.
The Hawks have remained undefeated since falling to the Waratahs in the opening round of the season, and sit just one win behind the undefeated defending champions.
TABLE: Waratahs (6-0), Hamilton (5-1), Merewether-Carlton, Easts-University (3-3), Maitland (1-5), Medowie (0-6).