Central North Rugby Union’s two top-ranked women’s 10s sides produced an entertaining contest to kick off the grand final day proceedings at Saturday’s Tamworth grand final.
Narrabri Rugby Club’s women’s team secured their maiden premiership as the Blue Boars prevailed 26-12 against Gunnedah Red Devils at Chillingworth Oval.
The nail-biting women’s premiership match was held before Moree Bulls beat Tamworth Pirates 17-7 in second grade and 28-17 in first grade to take home both of the men’s premierships.
Narrabri outscored Gunnedah four tries to two and three conversions to one on a hot day to get the job done in the women’s decider after going behind in the fourth minute.
The Red Devils came out firing early on in the contest, winning a penalty in defence after just 25 seconds to establish good field position, and they managed to camp themselves down Narrabri’s end and open the scoring with a try in the fourth minute when Sarah Stewart charged her way over from close range.
Peta Lawrence converted that try to make the score 7-0, but it became 7-all just 30 seconds after Narrabri kicked off to restart play.
The ball went through four sets of hands before it found Cassidy Morley, who stepped her way through the Gunnedah defence and scored a try that Toni Gale converted.
The score was still locked at 7-all at the quarter-time break, but Abbey Anderson put Narrabri in the lead with a try in the 12th minute after she broke the line on her own 22 and charged away to score a long-range effort under the sticks to give Gale a simple conversion to make the score 14-7.
The Blue Boars still led by seven at half-time, and then Morley and Shona McFarland ensured that they stayed in front with a tackle to deny Piper Rankmore a try less than two minutes after play restarted.
Their side was temporarily reduced to nine players just after they held her up in the in-goal when Bella Cruickshank received a yellow card for an infringement during the build-up.
The Red Devils eventually found their second try with three minutes remaining in that third quarter when Kate O’Donnell went over just inside the sideline, but the conversion attempt was missed and Narrabri remained in front 14-12.
It was not long before the Narrabri fans erupted again as Gale made it 21-12 two minutes later when she broke the line on halfway and charged 50 metres to score Narrabri’s third try before slotting her third conversion.
Gunnedah pushed hard in attempt to get themselves back within striking distance in the fourth and final quarter, but Narrabri extended their lead to 14 points with five minutes to go when Cruickshank scooped the ball up out of the ruck about five metres inside the right sideline and made a blindside darting run to go over and make the score 26-12.
That was the final scoring play of the game as the Blue Boars defended their way to a grand final victory.
A presentation was held after the game, during which Emmy Barr was named the women’s competition’s Rhiannon Byers Cup winner for the best and fairest player and was also awarded the Lou Wilson and Ali Faulkner Cup for under-21 player of the year.
Narrabri’s Toni Gale was named the player-of-the-final and was also announced as the winner of the zone’s leading point-scorer with 196 points, having scored 18 tries and kicked 53 conversions.
The next highest point-scorer was Moree’s Ben Legg with 135.
More Central North Rugby Union award winners were announced later in the day at presentations following the men’s matches.
The Richard Cameron memorial award for under-21 men’s player of the year went to Quirindi’s Bailey Swain, the Treloar Shield for men’s best and fairest player of the year was shared between Inverell’s Pulu Siaki Maea and Moree’s Angus Roberts, the Bruce Etheridge shield for coach of the year went to Scone’s Evan Geary and Tony Miller, the president of the year was Moree’s David Watts, the reserve grade player-of-the-game was Moree’s Jono Spain, the first grade player-of-the-match was Moree’s Ian Ranger, the NSWRU zone referee of the year medal went to Linden Gunn, the NSWRU zone junior referee of the year went to Hunter O’Connell, and the Prime shield for services to rugby was awarded to the Northern Daily Leader’s Samantha Newsam.To order photos from this page click here