Women’s league side hangs on for victory

This article has photo gallery Published on CPL Max Bree (author), ABIS Chantell Brown (photographer)

Location(s): Sydney

Topic(s): Rugby League

Women's Australian Defence Force team and Management staff during the Rugby League Festival Of World Cups Sydney. (photo: ABIS Chantell Brown)
Women's Australian Defence Force team and Management staff during the Rugby League Festival Of World Cups Sydney.

An Australian side narrowly avoided a comeback from New Zealand to win the first women’s rugby league Festival of World Cups Defence Force series in Western Sydney during July.
The Australian Defence Force had both men’s and women’s sides in the competition.
The Australians went into camp about a week before the contest and locked down a game plan.
This paid off with an impressive 40-6 win over the Kiwis in the first game, but Australian hooker Able Seaman Marine Technician Michaela Peck said the visitors didn’t give up.
“The Kiwis were pretty intense; they were pretty big girls and they played with a lot of spirit,” Able Seaman Peck said.
“We really stuck to our structure and went to it.”
The second match-up between the sides proved slightly harder, with the Australians winning 48-26.
“Because we won that first game so easily, we were a bit proud of ourselves,” Able Seaman Peck said.
“Things were pretty close at half-time, but we went back to structure and managed to finish with a win.”
The Kiwis reached their zenith in the final game, coming out and shocking the Aussies early on.
“They came out really hard against us,” Able Seaman Peck said.
“Because it was the only game that really mattered, if they won, they won the whole comp.”
Despite the New Zealanders’ drive, the Australian women somehow hung on to win 16-12.
“They had us on the ropes for a bit, but we had a few senior players who calmed us all down and then we started to get on a roll,” Able Seaman Peck said.
“We had them a bit for fitness, so we knew we’d be able to catch them, but they had us scared for a little bit.”
Able Seaman Peck was named the player of the tournament.
Standing at just 158 centimetres tall, she was credited for her excellent defence.
“I play local footy and the girls we come up against are similar to the Kiwis we played,” she said.
“They were very strong; some took three or four of us to get them down, but we got them there eventually.”
While the women held on for a last-minute win, the men rampaged their way to the finals with convincing victories over New Zealand and the UK, followed by a hard-fought win against Fiji.
Things appeared to be tracking well, according to men’s coach Flight Sergeant Geoff Britton.
“We were nice and confident during the week; our structure was good for the first three games,” he said.
In the grand final against Fiji, however, Australia started with a myriad of handling errors, rapidly capitalised on by the tourists, who led 22-6 at half-time.
“We didn’t complete our sets,” Flight Sergeant Britton said.
“In the first half we only managed about four completions. We were always on the back foot.
“You can’t miss any tackles against them. As soon as they get an offload, they have three or four guys in support, and with their speed, they just cut you to ribbons.
“Our guys might have expected to continue with how we were going but it just never happened,” he said.
Fiji came out and dominated after the break, winning 44-12.
Australian front rower Able Seaman Marine Technician Ben Spring said his side struggled with the Fijians’ unpredictable style.
“They played a crazy, unstructured, rugby 7s style that’s very hard to defend against because it’s so unpredictable,” he said.
“They ran an unorthodox defence; they would chip and chase on the second tackle and throw ridiculous flick passes out the back.
“In the second game we didn’t complete a lot of our sets and they completed a lot of theirs; their flick passes were sticking, they just played better footy.
“They were pretty passionate and really good guys, so they deserved it.”