Both Super W semi-finals were cracking matches and well worth watching. The only downside is that not too many were aware the matches were being played.
They both would have been great promotions for women’s rugby. It’s a lot different to the UK where 58,000 watched England and France battle it out.
But back to the positives. Both semi-finals could have gone either way and were not decided until the last few minutes.
There has been a marked improvement in the competition. The Brumbies, who have been the big improvers, have had 18 debutants. That is quite a feat by coach Scott Fava.
The 30 player Wallaroos squad to be selected a day or 2 after the final is going to be interesting and challenging for coach Jay Tregonning. Most of last year’s World Cup squad are still around and have been playing well. Arguably there are openings in the back three, a couple of locks, and probably the big one: who will be the starting flyhalf.
The Tahs got out to an early lead but after the 20-minute mark the Fijiana Drua seemed to have the upper hand in the contact area. Special mention to prop Siteri Rasolea who was near impossible for the Tahs players to handle.
This continued through the game until the Tahs brought on their bench. Both Rosie Ebbage and in particular Loretta Mailangi made a difference in the contact area. No doubt the Tahs also missed Eva Karpani.
The Fijiana Drua were able to continually get over the advantage line despite some terrific defence by the Tahs. As expected, the Drua played a fast offloading game. With the amount of possession that they had it always looked like they were about to break the game open.
But credit to the Tahs defence, they hung in there and scrambled well. In many ways the Fijiana just wore the Tahs down, as they were unable to get consistent front foot ball.
At the same time the Tahs will no doubt be disappointed they did not take the opportunities which could have won them the game. A couple of dropped balls close to and over the try line were costly, as were some poor lineout throws.
Despite losing, the Tahs still had some outstanding players. Grace Hamilton and Piper Duck led the forwards. Apart from Hamilton’s runs, she saved the Tahs with crucial turnovers at critical times. She probably does not get the credit but hooker Adiana Talakai again had a good game.
A bit like the Tahs men, the backline was a bit clunky, they have pace on the wings but were unable to utilise them. Maybe they missed having Katrina Barker at 12. She is not a big player but she is a smart footy player.
Congrats to the Fijiana Drua.
Despite the loss it was a good season for the Tahs with a lot of youngsters getting some great experience.
This game was an unbelievably tight affair. In some ways it felt the Brumbies were playing better but the Reds kept hanging in there. Both forward packs gave it to each other.
The difference was probably the edge the Reds had in the backline. Interestingly, the Brumbies had recruited three international forwards, the Reds three backs.
Not surprisingly for a Brumbies team, their first two tries were from rolling mauls. Even without Amy Rule the Brumbies forwards were a bit of a juggernaut, and their backrow was a beast.
It is difficult to highlight only a couple of players, but hooker Tania Naden and number eight Grace Kemp really stood out (noting Naden did have a couple of throwing issues). Also must mention, again, Faitala Moleka the 18 year old fly half, phenomenal for a first year and at that age, plus she kicks goals.
The Reds forwards are always tough. Year in and year out they hold their own with any team. Special mention of Annabelle Codey who had a massive game. It would not be surprising if she was in the Wallaroos reckoning again after missing out on last year’s World Cup squad. The backline has been a lot better this year.
The Reds recruited well with the Kiwi halves. In particular, fly half Carys Dallinger was outstanding. Her control and calmness were possibly the difference.
Although they did not use them as much as they probably wanted to, between Ivania Wong, Fijian flyer Heleina Young and Renae Nona at fullback they have a very potent back three.
The final between the Reds and Fijiana Drua is going to be a beauty. The question will be if the Reds can match up to the Fijiana Drua forward pack? And that is a big ‘if’. If they can, their backs should do the job.