Orange Hawks are red-hot favourites to claim the 2017 Country Rugby League Western Region Women’s Nines title, notching two more wins in Saturday’s final rounds to remain undefeated and win through to next month’s finals day in top spot.
But Dubbo CYMS, which didn’t make the trip to Bathurst on the weekend, has finished in the top four and, along with St Pat’s and the Mountain View Misfits, will try to stop the Hawks juggernaut in the finals at Caltex Park on November 4.
Hawks finished in first place by six points after the regular season when they defeated major rival Bathurst St Pat’s 12-4 and Oberon-Nyngan 30-0 in a reduced round seven-eight at University Oval on Saturday.
It was a great effort from the Tigers players who hailed from Nyngan, who had made a massive 370km trek to Bathurst.
Hawks and St Pat’s, the two standouts in the inaugural competitive Nines tournament, will clash in the major semi-final at Caltex Park while CYMS and the Misfits and will do battle in the minor.
Hawks will take the mental edge into the finals after downing Pats in the rounds and the star of the Bathurst side, Meredith Jones, knows her side needs to shift up a gear if they’re to take out the title.
“They’re tackling really well, they have two in every single time … that’s probably the difference.
Our ball skills are probably on par with Hawks, but their defence is just too good at the moment.St Pat's Meredith Jones
“We are still trying to get the gist of it and we are going in too high,” she said.
“I think you can tell we are more of a [league] tag team than a league team.
“I feel our ball skills are pretty good and probably on par with them, but their defence is just too good at the moment.
“We aren’t that far off them, but I think it will probably take us two or three seasons to get the gist of this.
“We’ve got to get over that fear of going full on.”
CYMS will rely on its speed to make an impact in the finals, with Rikka Lamb-Lane among the competition’s top try-scorers.
All sides will be involved on finals day with fifth to eighth playing a knockout series. The bottom four knockout winner also has the ability to finish as high as fourth spot.
Oberon-Nyngan (fifth) will play Dubbo Macquarie (eighth) in one bottom four semi-final while Dubbo Westside (sixth) and Wellington (seventh) will clash in the other.
First matches on finals day will start at 10am.