Their performance in Sunday’s grand final may not have been their typical, polished effort, but Bathurst St Pat’s still did more than enough to secure their second consecutive Group 10 league tag premiership on Sunday, capping their undefeated year with a 16-6 victory over Orange Hawks.
Both the Saints and two blues had plenty of errors in them, many at times unforced, but the former side showed their experience to capitalise on their chances and couple their minor premiership with the major trophy.
The Bathurst side led 10-6 at half-time at Cowra’s Sid Kallas Oval and controlled proceedings in the second period to add one more converted try in the 34th minute then close out the comfortable victory.
“We’re stoked, I think the girls really deserve it. They’d be undefeated all year and obviously that means nothing if you don’t win on the big day, but they did what they needed to do,” St Pat’s coach Mick Armstrong said.
“It wasn’t their best performance but obviously they won’t mind that, they’ve done the job. It was convincing in a way but still quite nerve-racking, I’m really happy for them.”
Armstrong said he’d gone into the game somewhat wary of the young two blues after having a number of weeks off thanks to his side’s standing as the competition’s best, which made the lead-up “difficult”.
“All the byes we had before this game did make preparing a little bit difficult,” he said.
“But they did really well with that, they knew what they had to do.”
St Pat’s were gifted an early chance with a penalty inside Hawks’ half but they coughed up possession early in the set, fortunately for the Saints it mattered little as capitalised on a two blues’ error five minutes later.
The error came after a towering bomb from halfback, skipper and eventual player-of-the-final Mish Somers, which became a trend throughout the game.
Three tackles after the spill, St Pat’s rake Riane Barton darted out of dummy half to open the scoring. Somers added the extras, giving the Saints a 6-nil lead.
Hawks cancelled that out almost immediately when Jacky Lyden dived over next to the sticks after her side was given a piggy back from a penalty, Bec Ford’s kick squaring the ledger.
But in the 20th minute the minor premiers took the lead again, through Meredith Jones. Again, it came after the two blues spilled a Somers bomb on their own line.
St Pat’s skipper missed the kick, but her side held their 10-6 lead until midway through the second half.
They’d controlled the tempo beautifully through the opening stages of the second half and they were dominating the possession stakes too and it paid off.
Once again Somers went high, once again it was spilled at the back and Amy Copping barged her way over in the 34th minute, Somers’ goal pushing the score to 16-6.
The two blues tried, their was never any doubting their effort, but they couldn’t break St Pat’s, who closed the game out expertly.
34 | TRY ST PAT'S! Copping dives over, she's been good and deserved one. Again it's after Hawks spill a Somers bomb. There's no real wind, but they're battling over the high ball. Somers nails the kick.— Matt Findlay (@MRFindlay24) September 9, 2018
16-6 now, Pat's 16 minutes from another title.#Group10pic.twitter.com/SbRWdYKMsj
So expertly, Hawks coach Marty Lyden said he “couldn't fault” the Saints.
“They’re just a really good side, with a really good coach. They were really strong all season and I think they deserved their win, so congratulations to them,” he said, adding how stoked he was with his young side.
“The thing is, it’s actually not too disappointing for us because realistically we only came together as a side about halfway through the season.
“We lost a lot of players this season to (Bathurst) Panthers and to St Pat’s too and we picked up five or six new girls midway through the season, so I think to even be here on grand final day was a pretty big thing.”
That was something Ford, the side’s skipper, echoed in her post-game speech.
“I’m just so proud of the girls, with the way our culture’s come together and the side has too this still feels like a win to us,” she said.
“It was a rebuilding year after we lost so many players and the way the girls have handled that has just been amazing.”
Along with Somers former Hawks and now Saints fullback Erin Naden was outstanding before leaving the field clutching her back four minutes from full-time.
Copping was also excellent, as was Barton.
For Hawks Ford kicked well too and Ella J Harris was strong, but the two blues’ best was Cheynoah Merchant in the centres, who continually threatened and led the defensive line.
- BATHURST ST PAT’S 16 (Riane Barton, Meredith Jones, Amy Copping tries; Mish Somers 2 goals) def ORANGE HAWKS 6 (Jacky Lyden try; Bec Ford goal)