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Kelly rapt with reward after unbeaten season

Central Coast Roosters captain Isabelle Kelly said her team could still hold their heads high after a dominant Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership season, even though they didn’t get a chance to put an exclamation mark on it with a Grand Final win.

“I am very proud – we’ve worked very hard the last two years to really build a great relationship and culture among the girls and also our coaching staff,” she said.

“We have great trust in them and they did a great job in taking us to the heights we reached.”

The Roosters remained undefeated during the regular season which included a perfect home (7-0) and away (4-0) record. For seven of those 11 wins, the CC Roosters scored 30 points or more.

“Our coach for the past two years John Strange has had us undefeated since he started with us,” Kelly said.

“He’s also coaching the NRLW Roosters team. He’s with us again next year thank goodness.”

The Roosters Semi-final against the Helensburgh Tigers, and the other Semi-final between Mounties and the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, were both postponed to July 17 at Campbelltown Stadium after the NSW Government announced a lockdown to combat the COVID-19 outbreak.

After the lockdown was extended, they were both abandoned and the Grand Final between the top two sides in the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership – Roosters and Mounties – was set for July 24 at Leichhardt Oval. That too was cancelled as the COVID-19 crisis in Sydney deepened.

Kelly said her team were looking forward to taking on Mounties as they had only met once during the season (Round 13) for a 22-20 win.

“They’re an awesome side and we’ve missed playing them (in finals) over the previous two years because of COVID-19,” she said. “But they are a very strong team and I know that when we last played them it came down to the last few minutes.

“Hopefully we get to match it with them next year. I also want give them some credit in the way they’ve handled the 2021 season because I know it would have been hard not to play a Grand Final.”

All finals contenders in the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership felt the frustrations of waiting to hear if they could end their season.

“It was hard considering how long it went on for and how we had to stay motivated for that goal of a Grand Final so it was disappointing but all the teams involved in the finals also didn’t get to finish the year the way they wanted,” Kelly said.

“For us, I still don’t think we hit our true potential and unfortunately we didn’t get to put the final stamp on our season. But we went 11 from 11 – we’re pretty pleased with that.”

Kelly, a former Golden Boot winner as well as a Harvey Norman Sky Blues Origin player, nominated three of her Roosters teammates who she thought hit their straps in 2021: winger Jasmine Strange, second rower Roxette Murdoch, and bench utility Keilee Joseph.

“Jazzy unluckily did her ACL just before semis but she had an unreal season,” she said.

“I watched her last year and have seen how much she’s developed as a player – it was unreal how much hard work she put in with her strength.

“It’s the little things with footy in improving her overall skill and she was definitely one of those.

“Keilee Joseph I thought also had an unreal year. She’s young and up-and-coming and she just killed in.  I loved playing fullback with her and running with her. She is someone you can’t really predict when defending.

“Roxy Murdoch is another. It was her first year with us and she is a weapon. You can put her anywhere and she’d kill it.

“Honestly I’m glad I wasn’t playing against her. She was a massive boost to our team.”