It’s only one year old, but if the first year of the Tarsha Gale Cup under-18 girls junior representative competition was anything to go by, the future looks incredibly bright.
Played in a nine-a-side format and alongside existing junior representative competitions (SG Ball and Harold Matthews), the Tarsha Gale Cup provided a competitive pathway for emerging female stars. Nine teams competed and several players progressed to the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership throughout the year.
Cronulla Sharks’ Tayla Preston kicked off the competition in fine fashion with a try inside the first minute of the first game, going on to top the try-scorers’ list for the season with 17 four-pointers. Lily-Rose Bennett (Steelers), Page McGregor (Bulldogs) and Cassie Ormsby (Panthers) also featured prominently, with each side making the preliminary finals.
The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs set the inaugural competition alight, claiming the minor premiership and losing just one match in the regular season. Going on to make the Grand Final, they came up against the in-form Panthers, with the Penrith side coming from fifth place to take a shock 26-18 victory in the decider.
Penrith’s Ashlee Harrison scored a double and was crowned Player of the Match, earning selection for Country in the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s City-Country Shield.
Who will reign supreme in 2018? The Panthers, Bulldogs and Sharks look set to enter the season as some of the favourites, but with plenty of emerging talent and new stars set to take centre stage, this year is anyone’s guess.
Players To Watch: Captaining the South Sydney Rabbitohs is Bryanna Murray - sister of NSW Under-20s captain and rising star Cameron Murray - highlighting the red and green gene that flows in the Murray household as their father Corey played 12 first grade games for the club.
Another player to watch is Illawarra fullback Lilly-Rose Bennett, a prolific try-scorer from last year's competition who took the Tarsha Gale Cup by storm despite being a year young.
The Tarsha Gale Cup draw has changed - click here for the latest.
You can follow all Tarsha Gale Cup matches on the NSWRL Live Match Centre.