The South West Wolves have dominated TFSA League grand final day winning two of three premierships at Graduates Oval on Sunday.
In two blockbuster games, the Wolves won the mixed with a touchdown in the dying minutes, while it took a drop off to separate the Wolves from the Eastern Stingrays in the women’s grand final. The final match of the day was also close, the Central Scorpions outlasting the Northern Vipers.
While constant rain Saturday evening made the field wet underfoot all three matches were completed in mostly dry conditions.
As in their semi-final win over the Stingrays the Wolves got off to a slow start in the mixed final, the Scorpions scoring the first try of the contest. Both teams had several opportunities to attack their line in the first half, while the dominant play makers for each team, Khyle Raye-Arbon for the Scorpions and Darren Williams from the Wolves were kept relatively quiet.
Down 3-2 at half time, the Scorpions dominated the second half, but were unable to capitalise despite numerous sets of line attack. Gifted several attacking sets after uncharacteristic dropped balls from the Wolves, the Scorpions had the chance to take the lead in the dying minutes, Koli Cinco making a desperate touch on the scoreline to keep the score at 4-4.
In response, a defensive lapse allowed Ruth Shaw to hit a link gap and score for the Wolves, as they avenged their grand final loss from last season.
The women’s game was a battle between the two teams that had dominated the competition all season. It lived to its billing as a dour battle between two teams with strong defences, with only three scores in the entire game.
Strong midfield defence impacted on both teams’ ability to complete their rucking patterns and ensuring the game remained a midfield slog for much of the contest.
Georgia Garret went over to score and give the Wolves a 1-0 half time advantage. The match continued in a similar pattern through the second half, Benita Grimaldi on the wing scoring the only try of the half for the Stingrays as the match entered a drop off.
The Stingrays tried hard, but it was Gemma Mongahan that was able to score the winner for the Wolves, as the previously premiership starved franchise made it back-to-back women’s titles, and two for the season after the mixed triumph.
There was a big build up to the men’s grand final, with the Vipers team the sole club representative on finals day up against the undefeated Scorpions.
The Scorpions were always slightly ahead in a tight first half. Twice the Vipers were able to score only to see their opponents respond in the very next set. An intercept on the defensive try line and full field run from Adam Whitehead, allowed the Scorpions to enter the break ahead by two.
The lead was almost three straight after the break, but the referees were awake to Ferghus Kernahan scoring from half and the game stayed in the balance.
The game remained tight through the second period, the Vipers matching it with the Scorpions but unable to bridge the gap. Some desperate try line touches allowed the Scorpions to stay ahead and continue their unbeaten season, winning 8-6.
With teams in all three grand finals, the Scorpions were also crowned the permit of the season.
Congratulations to the following award winners:
Mixed Open MVP Male - Khyle Raye-Arbon
Mixed Open MVP Female - Lauren Frost
Men's Open MVP - Josh Dobie
Women's Open MVP - Emily Gale
Mixed Open Top Try Scorer Male - Joel Flower
Mixed Open Top Try Scorer Female - Zahli Clarke
Men's Open Top Try Scorer - Josh Dobie
Women's Open Top Try Scorer - Lacey Arbon
Rising Referee - Torran Clarke
Referee of the Series - Jordyn Tomba and Amanda Sheeky
Referee's Referee - Indy Garner