The Hunter Wildfires entered the Jack Scott Cup hoping to be competitive and "possibly win a couple of games".
On Saturday, the Wildfires will take on Campbelltown in the grand final of division two in the premier women's rugby competition in Australia.
What's more, a host of players have attracted the attention of Super W coaches.
Powerhouse centre Ashleigh Walker and breakaway Annika Jamieson, who made their Super W debuts for Melbourne Rebels last season, will be integral to the Wildfires' chances.
But for ageless captain Tammy Clay, the key to the Wildfires' rise has been the development of the young players in the squad.
"The aim was to be competitive and possibly win a couple of games," the 47-year-old prop said. "We didn't expect to get to here. It's brilliant.
"It has been a big step, but the girls embraced it. They just wanted to go further, learn more and get better every week. It has been a great journey.
"It has been a great challenge for me personally. I'm certainly in the twilight of my career but to see some of the young girls and new girls, and the skills they have developed during this time has been amazing. To be a part of that has been great for me."
Young guns Kaitlin Leaney, Kayla Waldron, Emma Bradford, Sophie Clancy and Sian Filipo have taken their games to new levels.
Leaney suffered a season-ending knee injury last month, but coach and former Wallaroo Brooke Saunders intends to push the No.8's case as well as a number of others for Super W consideration.
"I have already spoken to [Rebels coach] Alana Thomas and she has been reviewing some of our games," said Saunders, who played for the Rebels last year before turning her hand to coaching the Wildfires. "There are definitelly players being gauged on their suitability to move up to the Super W world. I firmly believe we have players who are good enough.
"Ash Walker and Annika Jamieson proved that last season. Playing in the Jack Scott Cup has allowed the rest of the country to become aware of the skill level we have in the Hunter."
First is the decider and a date with Campbelltown.
The Wildfires, who finished sixth on the Jack Scott table to just miss out on the division one play-offs, went down to Campbelltown 10-8 in controversial circumstances in round three.
With the Wildfires leading 8-5 in the dying stages at Campbelltown, the home side had a player sent off for foul play, but the referee then blew a penalty against the visitors for back chat. From the ensuing tap, Campbelltown scored in the corner.
"That was a funny one," Clay said. "We are a totally different team to back then.
"To be fair, so are Campbelltown. They had a lot of girls who were out playing rugby league and are all back in now. They have a monstrous pack. We struggled against them at scrum time in round three, but the ground was very wet. Hopefully we are up to that challenge.
"We have worked a lot on our line speed to make sure their ball carriers don't get momentum. Our goal this week is to move up off the line and tackle low."
Though needing to match the Harlequins up front, Saunders has made no secret of the Wildfires' intention to get the ball to the edges where Walker, fullback Sian Filipo and wingers Anika Butler and Taylah Juckes can utilise their speed.
A win would be another family milestone for Tammy Clay and daughter Candice.
"We have won a few premierships together, but this would be another step," Tammy said.
As for the Clay's future.
"I have done the retirement speech many times before. You never say never."
Meanwhile, former Maitland captain Luke Cunningham has been appointed first grade coach for next season.
Wildfires: 1 Maryann Utai, 2 Nicola Roche, 3 Tammy Clay, 4 Kate Holland, 5 Trudi Peterson, 6 Annika Jamieson, 7 Kayla Waldron, 8 Emma Bradford, 9 Peter Salter, 10 Sophie Clancy, 11 Anika Butler, 12 Ash Walker, 13 Liz Kennedy, 14 Taylah Juckes, 15 Sian Filipo, 16 Steph Klimovitch, 17 Annabel Leighton, 18 Wendy Whiitaker, 19 Candice Clay, 20 Mackenzie Young, 21 Jade Pritchett, 22 Jorja Holden, 23 Darcy Gillett
While you're with us, did you know the Newcastle Herald offers breaking news alerts, daily email newsletters and more? Keep up to date with all the local news - sign up here
IN THE NEWS:
- Developer takes City of Newcastle to court over Darby St apartments
- Jets await new owner before replacing former coach Carl Robinson
- Two charged after alleged kidnapping in Charlestown traffic, assault
- Huge harbour sand deposit suitable for Stockton beach
- Newcastle transport 'too world class' for regional travel subsidy