Almanac Rugby League – NRLW Round 3: Grand Finalists Decided

The completion of Round 3 of the NRLW season produced an upset when the Warriors beat the Broncos before having to wait for the result of the Dragons v Roosters game to see if they had done enough to qualify for the Grand Final.


The Warriors inflicted the first NRLW defeat on the Brisbane Broncos on Saturday afternoon by 10-8. In contrast to their second half fade-out last weekend, the Warriors competed strongly for the full 60 minutes to hold out the Brisbane girls. After scoring two tries each, it was the successful goal-kicking of Apii Nicholls which made the difference. The Broncos’ Chelsea Baker had an off day with the boot, including a bad miss close to the posts which would have tied up the scoreline.


The Warriors dominated the first half through strong running both in close and out wide. Brisbane conceded several silly penalties to surrender field position and seemed unusually disjointed in attack. The Warriors used this advantage to rumble their way upfield before a series of smooth passes to the left saw Madison Bartlett cross out wide. Later in the half, consistent prop Annetta Nuuausala barged through some sloppy Brisbane defence to send the Warriors into half-time with a well deserved 10-0 lead.


Brisbane came out in the second half looking much more like their usual selves with Tamika Upton scoring within two minutes. Amy Turner crossed ten minutes later but Baker’s conversion bounced off the upright to leave the score at 10-8. Both sides had their chances in the final twenty minutes with the Warriors looking the more dangerous. Their halfback Charntay Poko had a very good kicking game and repeatedly forced the Broncos back deep into their own territory. Brisbane thought they had won the game at the end when Amber Pilley stole the ball in a tackle to stroll over and score but she was ruled to have infringed after the tackled player was called ‘held’.  Brisbane just could not make their usual incisions and fell short for the first time in seven NRLW matches.


The Warriors were best served by Nuuausala, Poko, captain Georgia Hale, Nicholls and their competitive forward pack. Atawhai Tupaea also made several good runs out wide. For Brisbane, Rona Peters had yet another strong game up front, Lavinia Gould tried to spark her team, Tamika Upton continued to impress, and Steph Hancock was her usual, reliable self off the bench. The loss won’t hurt Brisbane as it provides a reality check and should see them better focussed next week after this narrow loss was enough to see them through to the Grand Final.


In the most entertaining game of the NRLW season to date, St George Illawarra Dragons downed the Sydney Roosters 24-16 to qualify for the Grand Final ahead of the Warriors on points differential. The Dragons needed to win to progress while the underperforming Roosters looked to finish their season on a more positive note. With both sides committed to attacking football, the lead changed several times.


The Roosters had the early running, showing much greater mobility and enterprise than in their previous outings. The Dragons were forced to initially hold and then counter the surprisingly vigorous Bondi girls. St George took a 16-10 lead into half-time but scores were level again when retiring Roosters prop Ruan Sims barged over under the posts. St George replied via a second try to Jessica Sergis from long range. A late penalty to Maddie Studdon extended the lead beyond a converted try to secure the result.


The Dragons have hit good form at the right time and will go into the Grand Final with some confidence. They were best served by Sergis, her fellow centre Tiana Penitanu, Studdon, Maitua Feterika and Holli Wheeler who had a great game in defence. As mentioned in a previous post, the Dragons have the capacity to take down the Broncos but will need to go one or two steps better than today.


The Roosters will take some pride from their effort today as they contemplate next season. Kirra Dib has been a real find, Nita Maynard is relentless and there are the comparative veterans, Corban McGregor, Karina Brown, Isabelle Kelly, Hannah Southwell and Zahara Temara to make up the core of a competitive squad.


So we look forward to Sunday’s Grand Final. I expect the Broncos to be favourites but, at the same time, it will be a clash where both sides will feel that they have the personnel and the game plan to win. More on that later in the week.


Comment: It was pleasing to see that referee Kasey Badger was in charge of the Dragons/Roosters match. Wouldn’t it be something to see Kasey and Belinda Sharpe control the Grand Final with Karra-Lee Nolan running the line?



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About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A loyal Queenslander, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. Enjoys travel, coffee and cake, reading, and has been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. One of Footy Almanac's online editors who enjoys the occasional editing opportunity to assist aspiring writers.

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