SHENAY Ball from the Southlakes Roosters has scored a hat-trick of tries on debut to lead a dominant victory for the Newcastle Knights’ under-18s women in the Tarsha Gale Cup rugby league series.
The Knights swamped St George Dragons 54-10 at Balcomb Field in the opening clash of the competition.
Fans from all over turned out to watch the match, and they certainly weren’t disappointed.
The game quickly developed into a 12-try feast, with 10 going the way of the home side.
That massive haul was, in part, due to the offensive capabilities of Southlakes Rooster recruit, Ball, who proved lethal in the No 3 jersey on debut.
The match was tight in the opening quarter, however, with Emily Harman and Skye Pullman both crossing early.
The Dragons looked set to cross for their second try and level the scores from a well-placed last-tackle kick, but quick feet from Harman kept the scoreline in the home team’s favour.
Head coach Josh Potapczyk was impressed with her efforts.
“She came up with two key plays for us early in the game with just those extra efforts,” he said.
“One [play] was to get us out of the in-goal on an attacking set. We scored off the back of that, and then later she held up one of the Dragons’ players over the line on the last tackle to make sure she didn’t score.”
Ball’s hat-trick haul, added to by a double for Skye Pullman, put the game beyond doubt but Potapczyk knows the pace and high-scoring nature of their opening clash isn’t set in stone.
“It was a fantastic all-round team performance, and all the girls put so much in. Our goal was to limit their scoring and lift our work rate and we achieved that today,” he said.
“We’re up to the next challenge now. We had a bit of an unknown in terms of what we could achieve, particularly in attack, so it was good to see we could have the confidence, run the lines and pull the other team apart.
“There’s no doubt we won’t score that many all season long, but if we can get close to that against other established teams then I think we’ll do well.”
The Tarsha Gale Cup head coach also praised the strong crowd that Dudley and Newcastle offered up for the girls’ first run out.
“We’re stoked, it’s great to see Newcastle is more than happy to embrace any Knights side that runs out,” Potapczyk said. “Particularly with the girls making sure they had the passion, attitude and teamwork that we expect all Newcastle teams to play with.”
Bree O’Neill, Olivia Kernick, Olivia Glanville and captain Sophie Buller all added to the ten-try haul for the Knights. Buller kicked five goals, while Pullman and Tia Cook added one each.
The Knights will travel to Leichhardt Oval to take on Wests Tigers this Saturday, February 17. In Round 3 Newcastle will meet Canterbury Bulldogs at Maitland Sports Ground on February 24.