The Central Coast Roosters have held on in a closely fought battle to win the 2022 Women’s Country Championships, beating Newcastle Maitland Region Knights 14-6 at St Marys Leagues Stadium on Sunday.
Roosters captain Jaz Wolfe was excited for the team after their efforts to win this year’s competition following a forgettable campaign by their own standards in 2021.
“It feels awesome, we have come a long way,” Wolfe said.
“Last year we won one game, and then going undefeated this year is an amazing feeling.”
After trading sets in the opening exchanges, the Roosters caught the Knights off guard for the first try in the 7th minute when fullback Shannon Rose exploded onto the football one out from the ruck in her own 20-metre zone. Rose, who was awarded Player of the Match for her standout performance, sliced through the defence into open pasture, evading a handful of would-be tacklers before diving under the posts to score. Back-rower Jessica Gentle followed up with the conversion.
The Central Coast No.1 threatened Newcastle again six minutes later when she stepped around a defender and found winger Danica Sardelich down the left edge, who was bundled into touch just before the try-line.
A crucial error by the Knights quickly in the ensuing set, followed by a penalty, placed the Roosters in quality field position. Prop Ella Buteux made the most of their advantage at the 16-minute mark, muscling over the line for the Roosters’ second try of the afternoon. Gentle was successful in adding the extra two points to give her side a 12-0 lead.
The score-line remained until the halftime break with both sides failing to find another scoring opportunity.
The second half began in similar fashion as the two combatants struggled to gain momentum on the attack.
Central Coast were back in a try-scoring position in the 42nd minute when Newcastle conceded a penalty in front of the goal posts. With tries at premium, the Roosters players signalled for the tee and Courtney Jago made no mistake with the penalty goal attempt, bringing the lead to more than two converted tries.
The Roosters continued to keep their opposition at bay, getting off to a great start in every set with Rose’s strong kick returns.
The deficit eventually became insurmountable for Newcastle as the clock ticked to less than 10 minutes from the full-time whistle, but the Knights didn’t let up with ball-in-hand.
With five minutes remaining it was Newcastle No.11 Ebony Ford who scored from a crash ball courtesy of Monica-Lee Morris, which was successfully converted by five-eighth Brooke Carter.
Despite the Knights’ best efforts to force a late turnaround, the Roosters held on for a 14-6 victory.
“Preparation was a tough one this year especially with all the rain,” Wolfe added.
“We didn’t get many sessions on the park (due to conditions) and this week as well we didn’t have a park session.
“I think all the girls rallied together and we got the job done.”
Central Coast Roosters 14 (Ella Buteux, Shannon Rose tries; Jessica Gentle 2, Courtney Jago goals) Newcastle Maitland Region Knights 6 (Ebony Ford try; Brooke Carter goal).