Speed was the key during Saturday’s Westfund Ferguson Cup grand final and it was the quick girls in blue and gold that came up trumps.
With CSU Bathurst star Claire Woolmington kept under wraps the Bulldogs fliers shone, a treble to Courtney Auld and a brace to Claudia McLaren helping seal the club the Central West Rugby Union’s inaugural Ferguson Cup crown with an emphatic 41-7 triumph at Endeavour Oval.
Bulldogs led from start to finish throughout a dominant victory over the students and powerhouse back-rower Marita Shoulders was overwhelmed as the celebrations kicked in.
“I didn’t think it would be that convincing,” she said of the seven-tries-to-one title win.
It’s the Dogs second consecutive Central West women’s crown having won last year’s 15-a-side competition, too.
The scoreboard’s a reflection of everyone’s effort, not just the try-scorers.Bulldogs sensation Claudia McLaren.
“It’s my third grand final in a row, second win with Bulldogs. It’s amazing,” Shoulders continued.
“We did all the small things right throughout the season and the girls knew what to do at the set piece and we hit everything, as we should.
“We probably had a tougher run into the finals. We played every week and we stepped it up and came right at the end of the season. We killed it.”
Bathurst opened the scoring through skipper Mandy Scott after her side flexed its muscle at the set piece, winning a tight-head scrum five metres out from the students’ line that allowed Scott to pick up the loose ball and dive over.
Woolmington was pulled back for being off-side after streaking 80 metres in the lead-up to those points and, again, was pulled back by referee Evelyn George soon after thanks to a forward pass earlier in the play.
Those errors killed CSU.
Thanks to tries from McLaren and Auld, the Dogs raced to a 19-0 lead by the end of the first 20 minutes to effectively have one hand on the cup.
CSU hit back in the third term, Woolmington’s speed enough to eventually gift her a grand final five-pointer, before the Dogs turned it on in the final term to race in four more tries and ice back-to-back premierships in style.
McLaren was the stand-out for the Dogs but praised all of her side’s efforts.
“I think we’ve come together really well as a team. We all played for each other. We were great at the breakdown and in support and that’s what’s important in a team sport,” she said.
“The scoreboard’s a reflection of everyone’s effort, not just the try-scorers.
“This is my first premiership win. I was a netballer. It’s lots of fun. I can’t wait to get around the girls.”
CSU coach Dom Huggett was super proud of his girls, with just three of the Mitchell girls boasting rugby experience leading into the 2018 season.
He said the Bulldogs side that trotted out at Endeavour Oval on Saturday was as good as any he’s seen.
“From what I saw from the team that played West Wyalong, this was a whole different team and they were unreal. That would have been hard to stop. Credit to the Bulldogs,” Huggett said.
“If things had gone our way at the start it might have been a bit different, but they were unreal.”
Huggett lamented the missed opportunities at points early in the game.
“That’s footy though. We’re extremely happy to get to the grand final,” he added.
- BATHURST BULLDOGS 41 (Courtney Auld 3, Claudia McLaren 2, Mandy Scott, Kate Gullifer tries; Kate Gullifer 3 conv) def CSU BATHURST 7 (Claire Woolmington try; Ash Bridge conv)