Can the Newcastle Hunter Region Knights women’s tackle team dare to dream?
Following another impressive effort at the weekend, the Russell Grigg-coached outfit is now one step closer to claiming the 2021 Country Championships after beating the Northern Rivers Titans 40-6 at Raymond Terrace last Saturday.
The 34-point victory lifted the side into the upcoming semi-final, possibly against either the Monaro Colts or Western Rams, at a venue yet to be decided on 20 March.
“The girls did well,” Grigg said.
“We were a bit flat to start with; and the Titans scored quickly following an error.
“But, it was probably the wake-up call we needed.
“We hit back straight away and then ran in another two tries before the break.
“At half-time, they composed themselves.
“We also challenged them to be more consistent in the second period; and they achieved that.
“It was great to see them touch down another five times to wrap it up.
“In the end, I think we underestimated Northern Rivers; they surprised us.”
A further pleasing factor, according to Grigg, was the players’ efforts off the ball.
“I was very happy with their defence, keeping the Titans scoreless for most of the match,” he said.
“The girls put numbers in the tackle – and got the results.
“They worked for each other, too.
“We lost five-eighth Nicole Stanfield the night before the game, which was a blow.
“However, Tahlia Goldsmith stepped up.
“Halfback Ashley Harvey was also brilliant in attack.
“She had a hand in six or seven of our eight tries.”
Grigg praised a number of other Knights’ stars as well.
“Our second-rowers Phoebe Desmond and Sophie Higgins, who played through the pain barrier, were great,” he told Newcastle Weekly.
“So, too, was Emma Young, Harmony Liddell and Lacey Hickson.
“They provided plenty of impact off the bench.
“Then there’s winger Amy Broadhead, who returned from a torn calf.
“She played 25 minutes, had three touches and scored two tries.
“We’re lucky to have Amy on deck.
“She brings a lot of experience to the team.”
Despite being unbeaten in 2021, the Knights still have much work to do, Grigg stated.
“I was impressed with our first two rounds,” he said.
“Our game with the Greater Northern Tigers was tough, so too were the Titans.
“But, this is the hardest part of the competition [now], we’re coming up against the best.
“We’re likely to meet either Monaro or Western, so we’re preparing to face the strongest opponent we’ve played in the Country Championships.”
Meanwhile, the men’s campaign ended after the Knights suffered a 28-18 loss to Northern Rivers.
Newcastle Hunter Region Knights women’s tackle squad: (coach Russell Grigg) Adonijah Afamasaga, Amy Broadhead, Ashlei Grande, Ashley Harvey, Brooke Carter, Caitlin Shoulders, Chantelle Graham, Christa Smith, Emma Young, Georgia Smyth, Harmony Liddell, Janiyah Brown, Jenni Mauli, Jordan Glanville, Pricilla Tremain, Lacey Hickson, Margaret Watson, Nicole Stanfield, Phoebe Desmond, Rihanni Cipta, Robyn Draper, Sophie Buller, Sophie Higgins, Tahlia Goldsmith, Tasmyne Luschwitz, Taylah Gray