Col Fuller is adamant his Dubbo Westside team will go to another level in next weekend’s Group 11 grand final against the Parkes Spacecats.
The Bunnies knocked out defending premiers CYMS in an engrossing league tag preliminary final at Apex Oval on Sunday.
A Tarlee Roberts penalty with five minutes to go proved the difference in the match, it finishing 12-10.
While the first half was outstanding, the second was equally enthralling but not quite at the same elite level.
Despite that, and a 24-6 loss to Parkes in the major semi-final, Fuller is confident of a strong showing on grand final day.
“We’ll be right for next week. We’ll be better,” he fired after Sunday’s win.
FT | Westside wins! What a game! Defending premiers CYMS knocked out in the prelim, it finishes 12-10. Tarlee Roberts’ penalty the difference but coach Col Fuller says his side must be “better again” in next weekend’s grand final against Parkes. #Group11pic.twitter.com/YhCLkFiKAx— Nick Guthrie (@Nj_Guthrie) September 2, 2018
Defensively is the one area where Fuller wants to see the improvement as CYMS dominated the first half and went into the sheds with a 10-6 lead.
It was Fuller’s side which scored the first try, the dangerous Maddie Towney jinking her way past a number of CYMS defenders and over, but the rest of the half belonged to the Fishies.
Captain Nic Grose was dangerous out of dummyhalf while electric fullback Majayda Darcy soon began to stamp her authority on the contest.
A strong Darcy run led to CYMS’ first try on 23 minutes as Jinnaya Tyson crossed and then just two minutes later, right on the stroke of half-time, the fullback scored a trademark individual effort.
Darcy was put through a hole and then kicked ahead for herself, beating Towney to the ball and ensuring her side went into the break with a 10-6 lead.
Fuller spoke about the need to work on defence in the second half and it worked.
CYMS were kept scoreless, although they did have one huge chance.
After Alicia Frail had grubbered for herself and scored to put Westside back in front, Darcy seemed certain to lock it up again.
Chasing through another kick for herself, Darcy was controversially ruled to have knocked on in the process of planting the ball down.
It wasn’t long after when Roberts slotted the all-important penalty after a CYMS player was caught off-side, and then Fuller’s side again showed its strength in defence to not give the Fishies a late chance.
“There was a big talk at half time and I said that (defence) had been letting us down,” Fuller said.
“We’d been dawdling off our line and if we wanted to win we needed to come off the line and attack them and we did that in patches but we still did it hard in the second half.
“I didn’t even think we were in the game. We just got the bounce of the ball.”
The Westside players, fans and coaching staff celebrated wildly at full-time, while CYMS were left to wonder what could have been.
After being Parkes’ biggest threat for much of the year it was a tough finish for coach Gerry ‘Chicka’ Merritt and his side, as injuries and player availability became an issue.
Key playmaker Kaitlyn Mason missed what turned out to be the final two games of the seaosn through injury while Maddi Chapman also carried a hamstring strain into Sunday’s contest.
But the coach didn’t use any of that as an excuse.
“We were in the game but crucial errors and penalties. You can’t give sides piggybacks down the field and then do that much defence without leaking points,” he said.
“I’ve been proud of the girls all year. We’ve got a bit of a new team and there’s a lot of young girls and we’ve played really well.
“I’m proud of the efforts and we’ll regroup and come back next year bigger and stronger.”
The win for Westside continues the club’s proud record in league tag.
The side won the title in 2015, that win coming in a grand final also against Parkes.
“It’ll be good for the club,” he said.
“The last couple of training sessions we’ve had first graders down there training with the girls and we’ve had that support even when the other sides are out. It’s going to be good.”
- DUBBO WESTSIDE 12 (Maddie Towney, Alicia Frail tries; Tarlee Roberts 2 goals) defeated DUBBO CYMS 10 (Jinnaya Tyson, Majayda Darcy tries; Tatum Roberts goal)