Lady Illawarriors Take Country Title

NSW Country LogoAfter seventeen years of dominance by Newcastle Hunter of NSW Country Women’s Rugby the baton has been passed to the Lady Illawarriors. The 2018 NSW Country Championships were played at Campbelltown Showground on Saturday with four Zones competing. The Lady Illawarriors finished the Tournament on top of the Table with twelve points from two wins and a draw from their three matches. 

Newcastle Hunter and Illawarra got the day started bright and early at 10.00AM with the rain pouring down. The conditions prevented the match from being an open free flowing game with many stoppages giving the girls plenty of scrum practice. As the weather improved into the second half both sides tried to open up play but with time running out the first match ended in a scoreless draw with each side registering two competition points. 

Mid North Coast and Central West met in the second match with conditions only slightly improving, allowing for a bit more of a free flowing match. Central West scored first but were pegged back just prior to the break with the scores level at 5 – 5. The second half was a repeat of the first with Central West first to score and Mid North Coast crossing just short of full-time. The conversion just shaved the posts and the match also ended in a draw at 10 – 10.

 

Game three saw host Illawarra up against Central West. In a very physical first half Illawarra scored twice to Central West’s one and held a 12 – 5 lead at the break. The Illawarriors second try was a well-constructed try which featured some 20 phases of play covering the length of the field. Central West dominated early in the second term scoring first to take the score to within two at 12 – 10. But it was Illawarra who had the better of the remainder of the match despite play pulsating from end to end. Two tries in the last five minutes of the match gave the result to the hosts at 22- 10 with a bonus point to boot.  

Newcastle Hunter registered their first win of the day next with a two try effort over a gallant Mid North Coast side. Despite a whole hearted defensive effort from the northerners Newcastle scored a try in each half with some outstanding attacking play to win 14 – 0.

The next match was pivotal to the outcome of the Championships. Illawarra were set the task to score a bonus point win over Mid North Coast to secure the title. Illawarra started strongly scoring two converted tries in the first ten minutes and with a very loud and parochial crowd cheering them on went right on with the job scoring twice more to secure the bonus point and the title with a 26 – 0 victory.

Central West and Newcastle Hunter were drawn to play the final match of the day and produced a high quality attacking game of Rugby. After an entertaining first twenty minutes Central West scored after the siren to tie the scores at 14 all for the break. Central West took the lead in the second stanza but failed to convert leaving an opportunity for the reigning champions to still snare the win. Newcastle scored with three minutes remaining but missed the conversion from the sideline for a 19 all score-line.

Illawarra completed the tournament unbeaten with 12 competition points to take the crown with Newcastle Hunter also unbeaten but with two draws second on 8 points. Central West finished on 4 and Mid North Coast on 2. The Player of the Tournament award went to Central West player Marita Shoulders from Bathurst.

Congratulations to all concerned with the Women’s program, it’s a real feather in Illawarra’s cap to complete the Caldwell Cup, Women’s Country Championship double.

It was another day of quality Country Rugby well hosted by the Campbelltown club on behalf of the IDRU. Interest in Women’s Rugby is building in the Illawarra and it is hoped that a full Open Age 15 a side competition is not too far away from becoming a reality.

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