Parkes Spacecats took home the club’s second Group 11 league tag crown in three years on Sunday, proving experience counts for plenty throughout the 22-10 triumph over Westside at Apex Oval.
Sunday’s decider at Dubbo was the Parkes’ girls’ fourth straight Group 11 league tag grand final while a number of girls played in last year’s heart-breaking loss to Dubbo CYMS, a 20-10 defeat on the last Sunday of the 2017 season.
The 10-point loss drove this year’s success.
After a shock 11-10 defeat in the final round of the season to Forbes, Parkes has produced two stunning efforts – a 20-0 major semi-final victory over the Rabbitohs and then Sunday’s 22-10 triumph in the decider.
Ward twins Ash and Cass were tremendous during the grand final, making four clean line breaks between them, all of which led to Spacecats tries.
India Draper scored the opener – a vintage long-range effort from the fastest league tag player in Group 11 – while Paige Hay, Emeline Lavaka and player of the year Sally Dwyer all crossed to help Parkes put the pain of 2017 behind them.
“Last year was an experience, this year we were definitely in a better position,” Spacecats coach Joe Spicer said.
And that loss to rivals Forbes?
“I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t motivate the girls,” Spicer smiled, the one-point defeat the only blemish on Parkes’ 2018 record.
“I think it was the loss we had to have. It was a nice little wake up call, you just don’t cruise to a trophy. We’ve worked hard over the last month.”
Early errors from both sides punctuated the opening 10 minutes and for the most part it look like tagging would dominate a low-scoring affair.
And then Draper blew the game wide open.
After a Westside error gifted the Spacecats a 20-metre optional restart, Draper took the tap and then raced 80 metres to score a brilliant grand final try.
Parkes was then in again soon after, skipper Tyannua Goolagong producing a towering cross-field kick for the left wing, a bomb Westside looked to have covered until Lavaka appeared with the ball and crashed over for a crucial four-pointer, handing the Spacies girls a 10-0 lead.
Spacecats surging at the break in this #Group11 decider, leading thanks to brilliant tries from Lavaka, Draper.— Nick McGrath (@nickmcgrath4) September 9, 2018
Loss of Towney, for Westside, is a huge blow. It doesn't look like she'll be back.
The 10-point buffer is a huge one in this. Tagging from both sides is terrific. pic.twitter.com/0zEWOS9f7D
The margin remained 10 points at the break but six minutes in Cass Ward sliced through to drive Parkes up field, and a couple of plays later Paige Hay scored after skipping through the Westside defence.
Lauren Chester’s second conversion – she ended the day with three from four – lifted the Spacies to an almighty 16-0 lead.
It proved too great a hurdle for the Rabbitohs to leap.
Dwyer bagged a grand final try, but it was bookended by deserved four-pointers to Westside guns Madison McGuinness and Lucille McGuinness, to take the final scoreline to 22-10.
“The first half was unbelievable,” Spicer added.
“I keep telling them, attack wins games and defence wins championships. And that’s been the focus since day one.”
The victorious skipper, Goolagong was all smiles at full-time. In fact, she was grinning ear-to-ear basically from the point Draper streaked away to score the opening try of the grand final.
“Give her the ball down our end and she’ll run the length,” she beamed.
“India scoring that first try definitely lifted our team. We wanted it more after that.
23 | SPACECATS TRY!— Nick McGrath (@nickmcgrath4) September 9, 2018
Wonderful from Lavaka! She takes a towering crossfield bomb from Goolagong to score a great grand final try.
Lavaka made an earlier break that raced Spacecats up field.
It's 10-0 Parkes.
Maddie Towney is being carried off for Westside - not good. #Group11
“The tagging the girls did today was unreal.”
It’s Goolagong’s second league tag premiership having won a Woodbridge Cup title with Condobolin Rams in 2014.
- PARKES SPACECATS (India Draper, Emeline Lavaka, Paige Hay, Sally Dwyer tries; Lauren Chester 3 goals) def WESTSIDE RABBITOHS 10 (Madison McGuinness, Lucille McGuinness tries; Tarlee Roberts goal)