Western Rams fall just short of Opens League Tag Country Championships final

The Western Rams remain "a force to be reckoned with" despite falling agonisingly short of a place in the Opens League Tag Country Championships final on Saturday.

The Rams showed just how far league tag has come in the region during the Southern Carnival at Yass, but they missed out on a place in the state decider after a 14-10 loss to the Greater Southern Stars in the day's final game.

The loss was a frustrating and disappointing one and while Skinner stated the Stars produced a game plan which was "not the way we play here at the Rams", she was proud of the way her troops conducted themselves on and off the field.

"They left it all out their and held their own," Trangie-based Skinner said.

"The Western Rams are a force to be reckoned with, we've got it in us to go all the way in 2020."

The most pleasing aspect for Skinner and something she finds so special is the way the senior Rams representatives have developed not only as players, but also leaders in the relatively brief time the league tag program has been in place.

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It's been roughly five years now since a Rams representative side first started working, and a number of the players involved then were there again on Saturday leading the charge.

Skinner hailed the "impeccable leadership" of Bathurst St Pat's star Mish Somers, while also hailing the influence of her Group 10 teammates Meredith Jones, Bec Ford, Amy Hotham, and Sophie Stammers.

"We had some injuries in the second game but they just knew what to do," Skinner said.

"I've got to give a shout out to them because they're not only unbelievable talents, they nurtured the young girls in the side.

"It makes me very proud. You go back five years and we weren't sure where this would be going but now you loko at what we started and they're willing to keep it going in the Western Rams.

"They share their knowledge and experience and put time into it. That's what I'm most proud of.

"They're there for the right reasons."

Dubbo-based players, Taneka Tondhunter and Maddi Chapman of CYMS and Macquarie's Jacana Powell, were among the younger ones in the Western squad who benefited from that leadership.

Somers and her St Pat's teammates scored all the points across the day, with Bronte Emmanuel scoring the lone try in an opening 6-4 victory over Riverina.

The huge amount of defensive work Skinner and her side had put in during the build-up was clear to see, and the opening game was followed by an equally close-fought clash with Monaro.

WORKING: Jess Skinner pictured during a Western Rams pre-season session. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

WORKING: Jess Skinner pictured during a Western Rams pre-season session. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

But tries to Erin Naden and Meredith Jones and two vital conversions from Somers sealed a 12-10 win.

That meant the final game against Greater Southern was a winner-take-all meeting and while the Rams had an extra player in the final after a Stars sin-binning, they couldn't find their way across the line one more time.

"They thought we were playing contact sport for a bit," Rams coach Jess Skinner said of the Stars and the sin-binning.

"Mentally they rattled us a bit with their style of play, it's not the way we play here at the Rams. But that's how they got us.

"They were a lot more physical on the field and slowed the game down, there was a lot of penalties."

Skinner said she had no doubt her players were still hurting days after the result, but the much-respected coach was already casting her eyes forward to 2020.

Not only with her current group, but also the younger brigade who got to wear Western jerseys for the first time in the inaugural under 16s championship.

The Rams under 16s lost each of their three games at Yass, but Skinner said their efforts can only be a good thing for the future.

"As an opens group we definitely made sure we were around the 16s and supported them," Skinner said.

"It's definitely super exciting to see that and we value the 16s coming through and eventually they'll be a feeder for us so we don't have to re-start every year."

Skinner added she'd already looked back at highlights and footage from the Rams games, with plans for 2020 well underway.

This story Rams' leadership and development a point of pride for Skinner first appeared on Narromine News.