THEY 'tried their guts out', but a valiant defensive effort by the Western Rams women's side was not enough in Sunday's Country Championships opener in Parkes, with the women going down to the Monaro Colts by 18 points.
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Much like many other of the Rams games played on Sunday, it was a tale of two halves for the women - who were certainly the better side in the first half before the Colts ran away with the game in the second half, finishing 28-10.
Rams coach Andrew Pull was certainly not despondent after the game, though, and was instead focusing on the huge effort the side put in with their backs against the wall.
"They rolled their sleeves up and they tried their guts out defensively," said proud Pull after the game.
"They probably deserved a better result for what they put in, but I'm just really proud of their effort and wish they could've been rewarded on the scoreboard more.
"Today was finesse, not effort, that let us down," Pull said.
The Rams started the game strongly, camping themselves in their attacking 20 metre line before a brilliant, weaving run by Molly Hoswell got the first points on the board six minutes in.
The side continued to have the majority of the field position early, but handling errors began to plague both sides as they got into the rhythm of the game.
Prop Hannah Carroll was brilliant for the Rams in the first half, often carrying multiple defenders with her as she made big metres, while five-eighth Alicia Earsman marshalled the troops with aplomb.
Monaro hit back midway through the half with a try to Kim Grant on the back of a line break from speedy half-back Krystal Blackwell.
Fortunately for the Rams, they forced a mistake from the restart and Carroll, again carrying multiple defenders, was able to crash over from the ensuing set.
With just seconds left on the clock, a penalty gave Monaro good field position, and despite some stoic defence by the Rams, Zoe Podmore was able to score for the Colts, taking the scores to 10-all at half time.
Monaro started the second half with good energy, and forced the Rams to defend consistent sets on their own line in hot, energy-sapping conditions, and while they never gave up, as Pull flagged, unfortunately the weight of possession lie with Monaro.
Tries to Kaitlyn Andrews, Jacqueline Pele and Blackwell put the game beyond doubt, and Podmore sealed the game with her second try just before the siren, giving Monaro the win by 18 points.
Pull was pleased with the first half, but lamented the fact his side just kept handing the ball to the Colts, forcing them into tiring defense.
"The first half was what we rehearsed, we were giving the ball a bit of air and I genuinely thought we were the better team in the first half," he said.
"In the second half though, we just put ourselves under too much pressure, and Monaro ran harder towards the end of the game.
"At the end of the day we made too many simple mistakes...we've been training for three or four weeks now and haven't made that many errors in a month of training," said Pull.
On the same day the NRLW began their 2022 season, Pull could not contain his pride on the way the women go about their footy.
It's been well-documented the huge sacrifices and travel times many of the NRLW players make just to be able to play in the games, let alone succeed, and Pull said there were plenty of Rams players who give up a lot to be able to wear the green and white.
"The girls work so hard, and I really love putting time into people that give it their all," he said.
"Hannah Carroll is from Cobar, and she travels four hours each way (to Wellington) just to train for a two hour session, and Harriet Messner drives down from Lightning Ridge, which is about the same travel time too."
The Rams will look to bounce back next weekend when they host the Northern Tigers at Billy Dunn Oval in Gulgong.
One thing's for sure, though - we know they'll give it their all either way.
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