Bathurst St Pat’s has claimed back-to-back Western Challenge league tag titles after knocking off Orange Hawks 10-0 in Saturday’s final at Canowindra.
Australian Rugby Sevens development squad gun Darcie Morrison and Nicole Schneider scored the final’s only four-pointers, the former’s a 40-metre streak to the line late in the second half to ensure victory over the improved two blues.
The final capped a mammoth day of league tag action at Tom Clyburn Oval, with 20 teams venturing to the pre-season carnival, now one of the biggest in bush footy.
Qualifying for the decider after topping pool A undefeated then dispatching Group 11 premiers Parkes Spacecats 6-0 in the semi-final, victorious coach Mick Armstrong praised his side’s fitness in trying conditions.
“It’s always a tough day over here in the heat but it’s a great way to start the year,” Armstrong said, St Pat’s looking to bounce back after dropping last year’s Group 10 grand final to Blayney.
“We’ve come over every year we’ve played so it’s a great event, well done to Canowindra on hosting, we love coming over.
“Hopefully we can go one better (in 2017), it’s a good start for us and hopefully we can build on it.”
Hawks stand-in coach Jordan Dwyer was equally thrilled with the two blues’ efforts, a very green squad proving it will be in contention come the business end of the Group 10 season.
“St Pat’s have been together now for a while and we’ve got a new squad, it just takes a bit of time to gel,” Dwyer said.
“A bit of fatigue probably set it as well after five games … the girls were gassed there at the end, but (St Pat’s) is a great side.
“(Our) girls played well though ... we kept it simple today and tried to get the girls to do the little things well and enjoy it, and they did a good job of it.”
Hawks progressed to the final after a thrilling semi-final win over Blayney.
The Bears edged to a 1-0 lead in the second term thanks to a field goal from reigning Group 10 player of the year Liv Bird, but relinquished the lead late when Atahlia Sutherland scored in the corner to make it 4-1, the advantage belonging to Hawks.
But the undoubted star of the day was St Pat’s Morrison, her speed across the field the talking point among teams from Trundle, Condobolin, Eugowra, Forbes, Lithgow, Portland, Orange, Bathurst and Dubbo.
“Darcie (will play) a fair bit, hopefully. A lot depends on her other commitments, but she’ll play when she can,” Armstrong said of his star player.
“She’s the quickest in the group and great on her feet … she’s a great asset.
“But I thought Sarah Watterson played well today at fullback, she’s just as good as Darcie and she’ll fill in there too.”
Both Hawks (pool C) and Blayney (pool D) topped their respective groups undefeated, while Parkes progressed out of pool B thanks to the narrowest of margins.
Both the Spacecats (plus-46) and Orange CYMS (plus-30) were tied on seven points, but the Group 11 guns qualified thanks to a superior for-and-against.
Condobolin Rams 6 def Binalong Brahmans 4.
Portland Colts 10 def Canowindra Tigers 6
Grenfell Goannas 8 def Forbes Magpies 4
Dubbo Macquarie 4 def Trundle Boomrers 0
Cargo Blue Heelers 4 def New Era Cup DEvelopment 0
Parkes Spacemen 16 def Burrengong Bears 0
Eugowra Golden Eagles 6 def Lithgow Workies 0
Manildra Rhinos 24 def Orange Barbarians 0
Bathurst St Pat's 32 def Binalong Brahmans 0
Orange CYMS 8 def Portland Cotls 0
Orange Hawks 4 def Grenfell Goannas 0
Blayney Bears 8 def Trundle Boomers 0
New Era Cup Development 12 def Condobolin 6
Parkes Spacemen 14 def Canowindra 0
Forbes MAgpies 14 def Lithgow Workies 0
Manildra Rhinos 4 def Dubbo Macqurie 0
Bathurst St Pat's 24 def Cargo Blue Heelers 0
Orange CYMS 10 def Burrengong Bears 0
Orange Hawks 20 def Eugowra Golden Eagles 0
Blayney Bears 18 def Orange Barbarians 0
New Era Cup Development 10 def Binalong 0
Parkes Spacemen 16 def Portland Colts 0
Grenfell Goannas 0 drew with Lithgow Workies 0
Manildra Rhinos 10 def Trundle Boomers 0
Bathurst St Pat's 10 def Condobolin Rams 0
Orange CYMS 12 def Canowindra 0
Orange Hawks 8 def Forbes Magpies 0
Dubbo Macquarie 6 drew with Blayney Bears 6
Cargo Blue Heelers 28 def Binalong 0
Portland Colts 10 def Burrengong 4
Grenfell Goannas 20 def Eugowra 0
Trundel 10 def Orange Barbarians 0
Bathurst St Pat's 16 def New Era Cup Development 0
Orange CYMS 0 drew with Parkes Spacemen 0
Orange Hawks 16 def Lithgow Workies 0
Blayney Bears 12 def Manildra Rhinos 0
Condobolin Rams 12 def Cargo Blue Heelers 0
Burrengong 10 def Canowindra 0
Eugowra Golden Eagles 4 def Forbes Magpies 0
Dubbo Macquarie 6 def Orange Barbarians 0
SEMI-FINAL: Bathurst St Pat's 6 def Parkes 0
SEMI-FINAL: Orange Hawks 4 def Blayney Bears 1
FINAL: Bathurst St Pat's 10 def Orange Hawks 0
(Teams listed in order of finish)
POOL A: Bathurst St Pat's, Binalong, Condbolin, Cargo, New Era Development
POOL B: Parkes, Orange CYMS, Canowindra, Burrengong, Portland
POOL C: Orange Hawks, Forbes, Eugowra, Grenfell, Lithgow
POOL D: Blayney, Dubbo Macquarie, Trundle, Manidlra, Orange Barbarians