THEY conceded 100 points in their first three matches, and failed to score a single try in those heavy losses, but now the Dora Creek Swampettes are on a remarkable winning run all the way to the finals of the Ladies League Tag competition.
“It’s ridiculous how much the girls have improved, and how far they’ve come,” the Swampettes’ coach, Harley Farrugia, said.
Last Saturday, the Swampettes defeated defending premiers Umina 18-10 to consolidate fourth spot on the ladder. It was the team’s eighth consecutive win.
This Saturday, in the last home-and-away game of the season, Dora Creek will travel to take on Carrington where a win could secure third or fourth spot in the eight-team finals series.
“In the first three games this year we had 100 points put on us, and we scored none,” Farrugia said.
“But in the last eight games we’ve scored 300 points and had only 32 scored against us.”
This is Farrugia’s second year at the helm. He said a change in his attitude was working this season.
“Last year, we had three wins all season. This year, we’ve had 11 wins and two draws, with one game to play.
“Last year, I used to get a bit frustrated as coach when something wouldn’t happen. But this year I’m taking things a bit easier.”
Farrugia has been the assistant coach of junior boys’ teams at South Lakes, and of the men in Central Wyong’s second-division team. He said different approaches were required when coaching women.
“Being females, you do have to watch the way you say things to the girls, and how you go about it. But I’ve found that taking things a bit cruisier works better.”
Farrugia said the women responded particularly well to seeing his instructions, or new concepts, demonstrated.
And just as with any men’s team, there is a variety of age groups and personality types to negotiate.
“A lot of the girls hadn’t touched a football before,” he said.
So some were nervous, and scared of making mistakes.
“But everyone makes mistakes. And that’s what I’m here for, to explain what they’re doing wrong, and to help them fix those things.”
The turn-around in the team’s performance this year, he said, was a function of several factors including recruitment, the girls’ improving skills set, and their growing understanding of each player’s role and responsibilities.
He said the girls were very coachable, generally took constructive criticism well, and enjoyed banter with the coach and the men’s team, the Dora Creek Swampies.
Farrugia said there was an interesting dynamic in the Swampettes. His partner plays in the team, he played rugby league with some of the players’ partners, he went to school with some of the women, and some of the players have partners who play for the Swampies.
“A few of the girls have partners who play in the boys’ team, so they’re always trying to better each other,” Farrugia said.
By securing a semi-final berth, the Swampettes had exceeded all expectations, the coach said.
“People around the club say they can’t believe how far the girls have come, but I reckon they’re a chance to go all the way to the grand final,” he said.
Securing the title is another matter, entirely.
The runaway minor-premiers and undefeated competition leaders, Aberglasslyn, seem untouchable.
“I cannot believe the plays that they have, and how well drilled that team is,” Farrugia said.
“But regardless of how things go for us, we’ve done the club proud, either way.”