THE inaugural Group 10 New Era Cup Ladies’ League Tag title ended in the hands of the CSU Mungals when they beat hosts Wallerawang Warriettes 22-16 on Saturday.
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Three tries in the second half were enough to get the students home in a close affair at Wallerawang Oval, after the Mungals led 10-6 at half-time.
A try from captain Jess Sewastenko in the final five minutes secured the result for the Mungals.
Coach Brad Dewar said his team, most of whom are new to the game, did a great job despite some early nerves.
“It went exactly the way we thought it was going to go, being very back-and-forth. It was very end-to-end and quite exciting,” he said.
“There were a few errors, but that can only be expected being the first time the comp’s been run, but early there were a lot of nerves as well,” he said.
“A lot of the girls haven’t played this sport before and it was a big occasion as well. A credit to both teams – they both played really well. It showcases a good competition and hopefully it gets a bit more interest next year.
“The girls got a bit ahead of themselves [in the second half] and that’s when they started opening up the line a little bit. It took a bit of readjusting, but it was a hard-fought win.”
It took less than three minutes for the Mungals to get on the scoreboard, Amanda Marks slipping through the defence after a dummy close to the line.
Errors and defensive lapses from both teams marked the early stages of the match, leading to several line breaks for each team.
Diana Giardino’s run down the left touchline for CSU was a little too close to the white paint as her long run couldn’t find a reward at the end.
Kristy Wilson then responded with a break through the middle of the park for the hosts before a knock-on for the next tag ended that chance.
Sewastenko beat three players and it looked like it would be enough for her to score, but she was tagged just metres shy of the line.
Chloe Davies eventually put CSU up 10-0 before a response right on half-time from Jo Cornwell took the gap back to four.
If the Mungals wanted to get on the front foot in the second half, then Grace Bickmore-Hutt made that happen.
A break eventuated down the right wing for the Mungals deep in their own half and Bickmore-Hutt couldn’t be stopped, her long run taking the gap out to eight points.
A penalty for offside gave the Warriettes a chance to put the pressure back on the visitors with two sets deep in CSU territory.
A grubber kick into the in-goal wasn’t picked up cleanly by the Mungals and Wallerawang’s Kim Northey was on hand to dive on the loose ball.
The conversion from Meg Embleton brought the score back to 14-12 in the Mungals’ favour.
Not much could split the two teams as they once again exchanged tries.
Despite protests from the Warriettes that they had tagged her before putting the ball down, Mungals fullback Marielle Biancardi added another try to the team account.
Danielle Baxter then hit back with 10 minutes to go as an overlap on the left side in attack gave the Warriettes a quick reply.
Embleton had an opportunity to tie the match from out wide, but her missed conversion left the visitors 18-16 up.
Sewastenko’s try eased the pressure for CSU, giving them a six-point lead, and after surviving one last attack from the hosts, the Mungals clinched the title.
CSU MUNGALS 22 (Amanda Marks, Chloe Davies, Grace Bickmore-Hutt, Marielle Biancardi, Jess Sewastenko tries; Marks conversion) defeated WALLERAWANG WARRIETTES 16 (Jo Cornwell, Kim Northey, Danielle Baxter tries; Meg Embleton 2 conversions)
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