On the back of some crisp work from rugby sevens convert Charlotte Caslick, the Sydney Roosters have defeated the St George Illawarra Dragons.
The opening game of the 2020 NRL Women’s premiership was a lively contest, with big hits, good runs, and key performances.
The Dragons, favoured to win the competition, were out-enthused and outmatched by a hungrier Roosters side who won 18-6.
It was Caslick, using her rugby sevens experience, that linked up well with several other Roosters stars over the course of the game.
The loss for the Dragons was soured by injuries to Jess Sergis (ankle) and Shakiah Tungai (shoulder).
Back-rower Kezie Apps also failed to finish the game after failing her in-game head injury assessment.
The nitty-gritty affair was going to take a similar try to break the deadlock and it was Nita Maynard who did so.
The live-wire hooker burrowed her way over from dummy half after a quick play-the-ball.
Despite that early momentum, Roosters’ errors would come back to bite them as the Dragons then equalised.
The returning Sammy Bremner, who herself had a brilliant game, laid on a lovely cut-out pass for Tiana Penitani.
The winger would score in the corner with the score close at 6-4.
A blow for the Roosters was then losing fullback Botille Vette-Welsh just 13 minutes into the game with a hamstring injury.
That did not deter the Roosters women’s side, though, as another dummy half try extended their lead.
This time, it was Quincy Dodd, who again caught the markers and defence napping to burrow over.
As the big hits continued, the Dragons had some chances but could not capitalize in the end to narrow the deficit.
The Roosters would score the last try as Caslick took the line on, offloaded, and found Zahara Temara.
The halfback then passed to Corban McGregor who sliced over with ease to cap off a solid Roosters win.
Despite the loss, the Dragons can be pleased with the efforts of their middle forwards in Elsie Albert and Steph Hancock.
Albert, a PNG international, was quality in her NRLW debut and Hancock’s experience and professionalism shone through.
The Dragons will be sweating on the fitness of several players but coach Daniel Lacey believes his side will be ok.
“It’s no different to years gone where we’ve lost players in round one,” Lacey said.
“It’s a brutal sport but we’re good for the run now because we’ve tackled and caught up to speed with the fitness and got the shoulders ready.
“You just can’t beat match fitness and match preparation.
“Both teams were a little bit rusty but it was a big battle and a good game of footy.”
NRL News Player of the Game
3. Hannah Southwell (SYD)
2. Sammy Bremner (SGI)
- Charlotte Caslick (SYD)