Wary Group 10 hoping to cap memorable WWRL season with a premiership

IN IT TO WIN IT: Group 10 will take some stopping in Saturday's Western Women's Rugby League grand final against Group 11. Photo: NICK McGRATH
IN IT TO WIN IT: Group 10 will take some stopping in Saturday's Western Women's Rugby League grand final against Group 11. Photo: NICK McGRATH

Group 10 skipper Amy Copping is expecting a fired-up Group 11 to try and crash her side’s party in Mudgee on Saturday.

The blue and whites have been nothing short of resounding throughout the inaugural Western Women’s Rugby League (WWRL) premiership and enter Saturday’s decider as irresistible favourites to take out the title undefeated at Glen Willow.

But Copping was cautious, rather than optimistic, in the lead-up to the biggest competition game of women’s rugby league the Rams region has staged.

“We are a bit nervous and excited, it’s going to be a big game. The Dubbo girls are going to come out firing,” the skipper said.

“It’ll be interesting. We’ve got a couple of the country girls backing up from earlier in the day and (Group 11 is) going to be out to win, we’ll need to pick it up a gear.”

Thanks to plenty of years playing league tag and a distinct mix of Orange Hawks and Bathurst players from St Pat’s and Panthers, Group 10 hit the ground running in 2018.

But Copping knows while her side has been nigh on unstoppable from the outset, Group 11 has been building to something special.

The Bathurst-based captain is just hoping that something special doesn’t eventuate in Saturday’s decider.

“We’ve come together and gelled well,” she said.

“Our forwards get us going forward and the backs, they get the ball out wide and run through them.

“But Group 11, Rhi Sutherland and Britt Naden are both great. Their halves, Tarlee’s in there too. She’s a bit of a danger.”

Copping said her side’s success has been enjoyable, and is backing the group to go around again in 2019 in whatever form the WWRL takes.

She says the continued development of fellow prop Haylee Lepaio has been one of the most pleasing aspect of the newly formed competition.

Lepaio is one of five Group 10 girls set to back-up after representing Southern in the NSW Country trials also at Mudgee, with Ella-J Harris, Bec Ford, Sally Dwyer and Grace Mooney all lining up in the early, 10.30am clash at Glen Willow.

Copping was backing Lepaio to have a massive day.

“She played one or two of the nines games (last year) and then started this, so she’s played less than 10 games in her whole life and she’s getting better and better,” Copping said.

Group 10 is also set to contest the under 18s WWRL grand final, with Group 11 running away with the minor premiership in the juniors.

Fullback Kiara Sullivan has been tremendous for the Group 10 young guns and Copping was hoping the under 18s girls kick-off the WWRL deciders on a winning note.

The under 18s start at 3.10pm before the seniors kick-off at 4pm.

  • GROUP 10: 1 Amy Hotham, 2 Meredith Jones, 3 Lailee Phillips, 4 Elise Woods, 5 Claire Woolmington, 6 Jess Hotham (vc), 7 Rebecca Ford, 8 Amy Copping (c), 9 Ella-J Harris, 10 Haylee Lepaio, 11 Kaitlyn Phillips, 12 Sally Dwyer, 13 Jacky Mae Lyden; Bench: 14 Grace Mooney, 15 Sarz Reyter, 16 Anna Evans, 17 Marina Holmes, 18 Emily McDonald, 19 Nicole Schneider, 20 Ebony Fenton.