North Newcastle left it late to run away with the win, but in the end an Isabelle Kelly hat-trick proved to be the difference as they defeated Mounties 28-20 to stay alive in the Harvey Norman NSW Women's Premiership.
Caitlin Moran was, as always, inspirational for North Newcastle, who managed to win despite falling behind on the scoreboard a massive three times throughout the match.
Mounties had numbers out to the right in a golden opportunity to post first points of the game, but good defensive pressure forced an error by Elise Robins. However, a more direct ploy to score first was used by Mounties just a few minutes later when Paufisi Uasike charged forward and crashed over.
The kick-off was dropped by Mounties and North Newcastle capitalised thanks to a left-to-right shift to rising star Cassie Ormsby, who dominated for the Penrith Panthers in the Tarsha Gale Cup earlier in the year and is looking to add more silverware to an already successful 2017.
North Newcastle made it back-to-back tries thanks to the brilliance of Caitlin Moran, who showed the ball and broke through and had plenty of support to her right, but she option to dummy and sharply step off the right foot before strolling over the try-line to take the lead.
NSW Women’s Interstate wrecking-ball Simaima Taufa broke the game open when she powered through the defence and made a strong run, and the retreating North Newcastle players could not prevent a beautiful cut-out pass to an unmarked Robins, locked the scores up at 10-all.
Taufa was at it again to start the second half, crashing over at short range to momentarily take the lead, but Isabelle Kelly snatched it right back when she burst through a hole with options either side of her, but she backed herself to score an amazing four-pointer.
Kelly made it back-to-back tries shortly afterwards when she once again sliced through when given just the smallest hint of space, before completing a genuine hat-trick moments later off the back of some great work from Moran.
The momentum was well and truly with North Newcastle, and some crafty work out of dummy half from Kylie Hilder allowed her to step around the markers and increase their lead to 28-16.
The try of the match came when Robins freakishly managed to bat the ball into the field off play into the arms of Dahlia Tahu as North Newcastle attempted to find touch, and she stayed alive and received an around-the-corner offload before running away to score. It was a sensational effort but too little, too late for Mounties, who would fail to score in the final three minutes and were defeated 28-20.
North Newcastle 28 (I Kelly 3, C Ormsby, C Moran, K Hilder tries; C Ormsby, C Moran goals) def Mounties 20 (E Robins 2, P Uasike, S Taufa tries; T Clark 2 goals)
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