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By Community Rugby
The Western Australian Women’s Sevens squad were given the honour of being the first rugby side to play on the recently developed nib Stadium, in their curtain-raiser prior to the Emirates Western Force’s match against the Cheetahs. For the ladies, it was their final trial to impress selectors prior to representing WA in the National Women’s Sevens tournament to be held in Sydney from Friday, 12 April to Sunday, 14 April.
With the squad divided into Pink and Blue squads, both sides were looking to leave their mark on the game. Trilleen Pomare scored the opening try on the back of set piece play within the first two minutes of the game for the ladies in pink.
The Blue side responded immediately with a mid-field break by Bec Clough, who offloaded in the tackle to Lisa Hemz in support to cross line, levelling the scores at one try apiece.
After some initial confusion from the kick-off, Hemz was instrumental in moving her team’s defensive line forward and controlling the general direction of play. It was her combination with Naomi Kara, who did a brilliant job in drawing in three players before spinning the ball wide, that saw young Katie Barnes (only 16 year of age) into open space going for the line. She was denied by a try-saving tackle by Pomare, who featured heavily throughout the match.
The Pink side struggled to maintain their defensive pattern from an unrelenting opposition. A quick tap by Hemz saw her cross for her second, which reflected in the amount of possession the Blue side had in the first half to lead 10-5.
While the crowd was treated to some big hits from the Blues’ Madeline Putz in the opening stages of the second half, it was the Pink side that was first to score. After receiving quick ball from Melanie Arjavon, Stacey Avery used her pace to get outside of the opposition defensive line to level the scores at 10-all.
With the possession ledger evening out, Haley Barclay showcased her right foot step to break the Blue defensive line before creating a three-man overlap for Jan Farrell to score, before Barclay crossed for a great individual try under the posts to take her side to 20-10 in the closing stages of the match.
The Pink side closed out the scoring after full time when Karen Nabalarua took the ball for one final play, sparking a try for Chelsea Randall to bring the final score to 25-10.
The match reflected the hard work the players and the coaching staff have put in the last couple of months. Head Coach Koiatu Koiatu, currently in Hong Kong with the Cook Islands’ Sevens squad has some big decisions to make with all players putting their hands up for a starting position in his squad.
All the players were very humbled by the opportunity of playing in front of the home crowd at nib Stadium. With the introduction of Sevens into the Olympic Games in 2016 it is quite clear these ladies have aspirations to represent their country. The talent of the women in the WA squad shows great strength, depth and a competitive edge. They will build a strong case to take out the National Championships next month.
What they said…
“It was great to play in front of the crowd and get some experience before we go away to Nationals. We gave away too much possession in the first half and we were on the back-foot. Once we got the ball and spread the ball wide we started scoring tries.”
“I was really nervous at first and had to block out the crowd and the atmosphere. Coming from netball and only having played rugby for three months I learnt so much from the Australian camp recently.”
“A bit nervous at the huge stadium as it’s quite intimidating. It’s encouraging to see the girls from different clubs bonding very really in the game and I think that’s good for the Sevens game and Women’s rugby in general.”
“Being involved with the Australian trial camp recently has only fuelled my fire to work even harder to gain selection into the Australian squad. I realised my tackling and strength is something I need to work on. My focus is to do my best for the WA squad and to possibly gain selection into the national side for the Olympic in 2016.”