GUTSY - if there was one word which could sum up Saturday's under 14s Western Women's Rugby League semi-final that Woodbridge won 24-12 over Panorama Platypi that would be it.
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Gutsy from Woodbridge as, despite spending a period of the game with just 11 players on the field, they muscled up in defence.
Gusty from the Platypi as they led at half-time against the undefeated minor premiers and only really had the game slip away in the last 10 minutes.
Ultimately it was Woodbridge, cheered on by a vocal band of supporters from the stands at Carrington Park, who advanced but it was a contest fitting of a sudden-death final.
Woodbridge coach Kira-Lea Dargin said it came down to the mindset of her players to produce that gutsy football when under pressure.
"I think nerves got the better of them a little bit there, but they pulled it together. We've been talking a lot about mindset and composure, so they pulled it out when they needed to," Dargin said.
"I used to play professionally, I played over in New York, then I played for Woodbridge when I came home. They rang me and asked me to coach.
"Being able to pass on that mindset and that mental capacity and being able to control that, that's going to be their biggest asset as footballers."
As for Platypi coach Rachel Hodges, she was proud of the way her side challenged the title favourites.
"I think we owned that first half," she smiled.
And a good first half it was from the hosts.
Helped down field by a pair of penalties, the Platypi were the first to score when a nice cut out ball gave fullback Jamie Powley space. She then used her speed to get over in the right corner.
Powley pulled off a try saving cover tackle on dangerous prop Payden Brien, while Panorama halfback Freya Hodges was equally good when getting underneath Malia Morrison to stop another potential four-pointer.
While Morrison did manage to score eight minutes out from half-time and the boot of Hallie Hanes gave Woodbridge the lead, Panorama kept coming.
Hodges caught out the markers when diving over from dummy half and it gave the Platypi an 8-6 lead at half-time.
Just under two minutes after play resumed Woodbridge, who were a player short after a sin-binning in the shadows of half-time, snatched back to lead thanks to Ruby Jones.
Woodbridge then lost another player to the sin-bin to make it 13 on 11, but they showed plenty of heart in defence.
Panorama scored just once during the period when their rivals were short, speedy centre Jaya Farrar put into space by a brilliant Tarnya Kelleher ball.
That locked it up at 12-all with 16 minutes to go.
It was tense, but the mindset that Dargin had drummed into her players showed.
They scored three tries in those remaining minutes - Jones crossing as well as impressive second rower Adison Newcombe and fullback Taya Donovan.
The attack was good, but so was Woodbridge's defence with Haines, prop Grace McGregor and hooker Kailen Butt all making a mountain of tackles.
"It actually tell them every week that defence wins games, so we focus on that as well. That was make or break right there when we were down to 11," Dargin said.
"We've got a few of our girls out, sitting on the bench with broken bones, so it's been a tough season. But one more to go, we are through to the big dance."
For the beaten Platypi captain Hodges once again tried hard all match, front rower Kali Thackeray took some top carries and Kelleher was strong.
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