Central West claims stunning, undefeated NSW Country Rugby Union Women's Championship triumph

CHAMPIONS: Central West celebrate their stunning NSW Country Rugby Union Women's Championship win, in which they didn't concede a point. Photo: SAMANTHA NEWSAM
CHAMPIONS: Central West celebrate their stunning NSW Country Rugby Union Women's Championship win, in which they didn't concede a point. Photo: SAMANTHA NEWSAM

Too big, too strong, too skillful, just too good really - that's the only way to describe Central West's undefeated, title-winning effort at the Tamworth-hosted NSW Country Rugby Union Women's Championship on the weekend.

On the back of three barnstorming performances from their bumper pack and incredible defensive efforts the Blue Bulls rolled to country week glory, qualifying for Sunday's decider with relative ease then hammering Central Coast 31-nil in that grand final at Scully Park.

Their performance without the ball was obvious to all, stunningly Central West didn't concede a point all weekend.

All the girls have been working incredibly hard since November ... I'm so proud of everyone.

Central West skipper Mel Waterford

"I'd just like to thank everyone involved in organising everything, it's been a great weekend and all the girls played so well, everyone should be really proud of themselves," Central West skipper Mel Waterford said during the post-game presentation.

"Central Coast should be very proud of themselves too they provided really tough opposition and played really well, the scoreline didn't reflect that game at all.

"Thank to our coaches Greg (Horton) and Tristan (Buttenshaw), they've worked so hard for years to help us achieve this and all the girls have been working incredibly hard since November too, I'm so proud of everyone."

As they had in Saturday's preliminary wins over hosts Central North (10-nil) and reigning champions Illawarra (22-nil) the Bulls' forwards set a wonderful platform in the decider, allowing Nicole Schneider, LillyAnn Mason-Spice and Milika Tuinakauvadra to put on an absolute clinic out wide.

In fact Central West's entire backline was excellent in the 31-point triumph, but Bathurst Bulldogs' Schneider, Orange Emus' Tuinakauvadra and Forbes' Mason-Spice were a cut above, proving exactly why they're considered among the Westfund Ferguson Cup's absolute elite.

Schneider was everywhere from inside centre, Mason-Spice timed her injections from fullback magnificently and Tuinkakauvadra was as busy a winger as you'd hope to see, and they either scored or played a hand in all the side's tries.

Mason-Spice actually scored two of the Blue Bulls' five tries and was deservedly named player-of-the-tournament afterwards as well.

CHAMPIONS: Central West debrief after Saturday's opening day of the NSW Country Rugby Union Women's Championship, which they went on to win the next day. Photo: DAVINA WRIGHT

CHAMPIONS: Central West debrief after Saturday's opening day of the NSW Country Rugby Union Women's Championship, which they went on to win the next day. Photo: DAVINA WRIGHT

It took 11 minutes before Central West opening the scoring, with Schneider finding space down through the middle before flicking off to Mason-Spice to beat two would-be defenders and score. Emus' Em McDonald nailed the kick from out wide, her shot bouncing off the right upright, onto the crossbar and then dropping over.

Eight minutes later Schneider, Mason-Spice and Tuinkauvadra combined again to set-up a swooping Sarah Archer in the corner, before the two latter worked their magic again to send Courtney Auld over untouched six out from half-time.

McDonald missed both those sideline kicks, and her side looked likely to extend its lead in the dying stages as Auld found space down the left wing again.

She was caught, fell awkwardly in the tackle and looked to have potentially done damage to her knee but fortunately popped up unharmed, her side taking that 17-nil lead into the break.

Central West were guilty of trying too hard to add to that tally early in the second period and their discipline suffered a little bit too, they blew a couple of scoring opportunities with forward passes and let their rivals march up-field with penalties.

So much so, in terms of the latter, Krystal Fyfe was sin-binned in the 50th minute after a high shot, the third in the space of just a couple of phases.

While that did give Central Coast a chance to get back into the game Central West's defensive pressure, led by Emus' Jacky Lyden from the back-row, was monumental, and once they settled down with ball in hand they added another two tries in the second half.

Mason-Spice scored her second in the 57th minute after, once again, linking with Schneider in the lead-up before Tuinkakauvadra found space from the resulting kick-off and sprinted away to score one of her own. McDonald nailed both kicks to stretch their margin to 31.

The Blue Bulls were actually down to 13 for the last four minutes after Cowra-Canowindra's Becky Eastaway and Mudgee's Harriet Messner were both yellow-carded for high shots, but they held Central Coast out.

Referee Kate Thompson was busy throughout the entire game but her performance with the whistle was as good as any of the players' showings.

  • CENTRAL WEST 31 (LillyAnn Mason-Spice 2 , Sarah Archer, Courtney Auld, Milika Tuinakauvadra tries; Em McDonald 3 conversions) def CENTRAL COAST 0

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