Group 11 will welcome back a number of players for next weekend’s blockbuster clash with Group 10 after a depleted side toughed it out in the Western Women’s Rugby League Championship on Saturday.
The Nicholas Wilson-coached Group 11 side started Saturday’s match with Woodbridge Cup with just 12 players on the field and three juniors, backing up from the under 18s game, were forced to play big minutes.
Wilson said his players showed pride in the jumper and set the platform for future women's representative teams in the gutsy 32-18 win at Manildra.
“It was not a convincing win but they dug deep for each other and it was hot and there was a vocal crowd,” Wilson said.
“I think it’s the most impressive we’ve been because they (Woodbridge) had 19 or 20 players and could rotate off the bench.
“We showed real mental toughness, that was the most important thing. They could have easily thrown in the towel and let Woodbridge run away with it but they didn’t.
“They pushed hard for each other and by the end were out on their feet. I was really, really impressed by it.”
Powerhouse forward Rhianna Sutherland scored a hat-trick in the win while Nyngan youngster Alahna Ryan was awarded player of the match for her sterling effort in a second match for the day.
“She (Sutherland) is just a good footballer and the one positive about us having low numbers is everyone had to play more minutes and run into some more fitness,” Wilson said.
“I’ve always said fitness is the one thing stopping us winning this whole thing.
“Alahna backed up and was excellent. She’s a really, really good footballer and pound for pound she’s one of the toughest I’ve seen. She doesn’t stand back.”
Sutherland scored twice, Ryan once and Tarlee Roberts also crossed in the first half as Group 11 went into the sheds leading 20-4.
Sutherland completed her treble early in the second stanza while Ryan bagged a second late on.
After Woodbridge coach Michael Dumesny stated during the pre-season his side would beat Group 11, Wilson said his side gained plenty of satisfaction from the result.
“I don’t get too caught up in that side of it but I know the girls really wanted to win and prove a point,” he said.
“It was nice to win but our big picture is on finishing in the top two and getting a crack at Group 10 in the grand final.”
Group 10 plays host to Group 10 in the fourth round at Parkes this weekend and Wilson confirmed the likes of Litisha Boney and Bec Smyth will return to the lineup after missing the win at Manildra.