Two debut teams arrived at Balcomb Field for the opening clash of the Tarsha Gale Cup season, but only one walked away with the 54-10 landslide victory.
Fans from all over turned out to catch the opening match of the Newcastle Knights’ campaign in the short-form, under 18s cup series, and they certainly weren’t disappointed.
The game against the St George Dragons quickly descended into a twelve try thriller, with ten going the way of the home side.
The match seemed close in the opening quarter, with Emily Harman and Skye Pullman both crossing early.
The Dragons looked set for their second to keep level with the Knights off a well-placed last tackle kick, but quick feet from Harman kept the scoreline in the home team’s favour and switched the pace of the game.
Head coach Josh Potapczyk was certainly 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.”
It was Shenay Ball that shone offensively, as the South Lakes Roosters recruit bagged a hat-trick in her first game in the Novocastrian colours.
Her 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 now set off on the road, playing at Leichhardt Oval against Wests Tigers next weekend.
The girls in red and blue will then return home in the third round to face the Canterbury Bulldogs at the Maitland Sports Ground on February 24.
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