THERE were stages during the season when Waratahs captain Tahlia Goldsmith doubted whether her side could win back-to-back Newcastle and Hunter women's rugby titles.
They battled with 14 and 15 players throughout the season. But in the end, the Tahs class and commitment came to the fore.
Waratahs overpowered a gallant Maitland 42-12 in the grand final at No.2 Sportsground on Saturday night to complete a second straight undefeated season.
NSW Super W winger Maya Stewart crossed for a brace, while Goldsmith scored a try and landed seven conversions.
But was barnstorming prop Maryann Utai and the rest of the forward pack who forged the win.
Utai charged over for two tries and was awarded with the player of the match.
"That was so tough," Goldsmith said. "The last 30 seconds I was walking and yelling at my team. The Maitland Blacks did so well. We have an amazing group. To win it two years in a row. It has been a hard year for us. We have been playing with 14 or 15 players for most of the year but we stuck together and kept showing up for each other. Maryann was awesome. She always put her hand up. It's her first year at the Tahs and we are lucky to have her."
The Tahs jumped out to a 10-0 lead through tries to Stewart and Tia Tauafao.
The Blacks hit back through Britney Duff before Utai powered over for 17-5 at the break.
"We had a lot of ball in the first half and weren't turning that into tries," Goldsmith said. "We got back to our game plan in the second half - spread the ball, find the gaps, score the tries."
The Tahs lifted after the break and the points flowed.
"Our line speed was great but we weren't making the commitment to the tackle," Maitland coach Kelly Sager said. "When you are playing against a team with 120 kilogram props it's very difficult. I thought our girls dug deep and I don't think the scoreline was a reflection of the game. I couldn't be prouder of the girls. They have learnt a lot. If we can keep some of the older girls around to steer the young ones, we will be back bigger and better next year."