THE Hunter Wildfires women could have been forgiven for dropping their heads.
Making their Jack Scott Cup debut they faced defending premiers Sydney Uni, who rolled out eight Wallaroos headed by skipper Grace Hamilton, at No.2 Sportsground on Saturday.
Although out-gunned 60-0 by the star-laden Students, the Wildfires fought to the end. Centre Ash Walker was a standout, while back-rower Kayla Waldron and Kaitlan Leaney produced wholehearted efforts.
Though disappointed with the result, coach Adam Dubois said there were plenty of positives.
"They definitely sent up their strongest team which we took as a compliment," Dubois said. "The most pleasing thing about the girls was that not one of them dropped their head. For large periods of the game we defended really well."
"Almost all of the their points were scored out on the wings. We really defended our ground. I don't think the scorelines reflects how proud of the effort they put in."
Sydney University set the tone early and raced to a 27-0 lead at the break.
"For many of our players, they have been among the best in their team in clubland for a long time. This is a step up and to experience the pace and the silky skills of a team like Sydney Uni first-up will be good for them. Now they look forward to how we can fix certain areas of the our game.
"Ash Walker was absolutely outstanding and showed her quality. She is a definitely a contender to play for the Wallaroos in the Wolrd Cup next year.
"Young Kayla Waldron, for a 17-year-old, carried the ball at Grace Hamilton many times without fear. So did Kaitlan Leaney and showed she should be looked at [by Super W clubs].
"We just start again and get ready for Campelltown next week. They have been in the comp for a few years. They are a mixed bag and need to be treated with care. Sometimes the availabilities of their players change. You could get a red hot team on their day and they are not a team to be taken for granted."
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