Preview: Women's Nationals Day Two

Leesa Hamilton
by Leesa Hamilton

With Day 2 of the Buildcorp Women’s XVs Championships underway at St Ignatius, Riverview, the teams are playing with do-or-die attitudes.

Today’s schedule will see some key match ups, with grand final contenders aiming for a perfect record to take them through to the Championship match.

Head Coach Paul Verrell said the ACT v ADFRU match would bring out the best in the teams’ leaders, especially for Victorian Captain Ash Masters, who earnt her stripes as a youngster in the Wallaroos Rugby World Cup squad in 2014.

“It’s a big step up for Ash this year, taking on the leadership role for the first time, but she leads by example, always on the front foot getting across the advantage line,” said Verrell. “With limited match preparation, leading into the tournament, I think once Victoria have got a few games under their belt they’ll come together with a bit more continuity. It’ll be a pretty evenly matched game against ADFRU.”

Verrell predicted Country NSW in their match against SA would aim to recreate the style of play that landed them an upset win over QLD yesterday.

South Australia's Taj Healo tackles Siniva Ah-Ki of Queensland. Photo: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley

“Country NSW showed yesterday that enthusiasm and communication will get you a long way. They’ll be a bit more forwards-orientated, whereas South Australia will look to spread the ball, so it’ll be a good contest.

“Historically SA have struggled to get a team together, but this year they’re not far off the pace. With a little bit more experience and time together they’ll be dangerous.”

The much-anticipated match-up between WA and Sydney, who are both undefeated thus far in the tournament, will provide a stage for key Wallaroos alumni to showcase their talent.

“For Sydney, Iliseva Batibasaga at scrumhalf linking in with Ash Hewson who’s moved from fullback to flyhalf, that’s a really exciting combination. WA’s Bec Clough played like she’s still 21 yesterday, running around the field. The big shock for us was WA’s Natasha Haynes who played on the wing in the last World Cup and who’s moved to number 8 and really found her feet yesterday in the contact.

The final contest of the day between ACT and QLD will be a make-or-break match for the Brumbies women in their finals quest. Verrell said he expected it would be a fast-moving game, with plenty of reliance on the youthful energy of both teams’ backlines.

“ACT have shown some really good shape in attack with some young girls coming through. QLD, after their shock defeat to Country NSW, got going in their second game and showed what they can do,” he said.

9.30 - Victoria v ADFRU

11.00 - NSW Country v SA     

12.30 - Sydney v WA  

14.00 - ACT v QLD