The Cooma Fillies are bound for the 2013 Group 16 Leaguetag Grand Final, following their defeat of the Bega Chicks, 12-8 in Moruya on Sunday. The win makes it the third consecutive Grand Final berth for the Fillies who have qualified every year since the competition's maiden season in 2011.
The Bega Chicks received the ball from the kick off and in the opening minutes of the game, were dominant in attack and defence, cementing the Fillies in their own 20m and testing their skills early. Though the Fillies hit back through the attack of Patrice Ingram and Meg Bracher, early nerves and some questionable refereeing decisions provided Bega with the majority of the possession. Defensive saves from Abby Schofield and Georgie Clarke prevented Bega from capitalising on their possession early, and after 10 minutes, Maree Ingram was finally able to get a last-tackle kick away and, following a knock on from Bega's winger, presented the Cooma girls with their first full set of possession within Bega's half. From here, the balance of power shifted to the Fillies, and following a strong set from Kristy Nichols and Monique Ingram, Maree Ingram was able to slide through defenders and score next to the posts. She converted, and the score read 6-0, as it did for the remainder of the half. Georgie Clarke was unlucky not to extend the lead minutes later, taking a beautiful kick mere centimetres from the try line, but her attempts were thwarted by strong defence from the Bega girls. Meg Bracher broke the line late in the half and, supported by Brianna Von Der Burg, the cousins came to within metres from the line but Bega's defence held strong yet again. Though both teams strove to get ahead in the game, they were evenly matched and as half time arrived, the game was still very much in the balance.
The second half began similarly to the first, with both teams looking to reaffirm their dominance early. Line breaks from Anna Steel and Meg Bracher positioned the girls well, while Kirrily Carberry's last second tags and Alana Nichols' defensive commitment prevented Bega from matching these efforts. Cooma conceded a penalty 15m out from the line in their own half, and Bega opted to take the shot at goal, which was a testament to Cooma's defence, with Joccoaa Rogers slotting it over and bringing the score to 6-2. Bega's frustrations resulted in some rough conduct in defence, and, following a stoush with Cooma's Jade Lee, Sandy Dickson and Lee were both sin binned for 10 minutes. This signalled the resurgence of Alicia Bolton, who returned from injury to alleviate some of the pressure that the Fillies were under. With only 10 minutes remaining in the game, Bega's Kezie Apps chased down a grubber and landed on Cooma's Abby Schofield, who dislocated her shoulder whilst sandwiched between Apps and the ground. Schofield was hospitalised from the incident, and much happier from the use of the morphine whistle, and following the injury time, Bega capitalised on Cooma's worry for Schofield, with Apps scoring off a pass from Trudi Badullovich. Rogers converted and for the first time in a year, Bega led Cooma, 8-6. Though Cooma's attack waned and was confused at times in the second half, no player gave up on their desire to get back in front. With the return of Lee to the field, Cooma were again revitalised, and errors early in the tackle count prevented Bega from regaining their earlier position in the Fillies half of the field. When all hope looked lost, Jade Lee showed why she is the leading try-scorer in the competition, evading tired defenders and scoring next to the posts with only a minute remaining on the clock. Maree Ingram converted and though Bega were given one more attacking set to hit back, the clock ran down and Cooma took out the game, 12-8.
The win secures the Fillies a position in the 2013 Grand Final at the Bega Recreational Ground September 8, whilst Bega have to face the Cobargo Eelettes at the Cooma Showground next weekend to determine the Fillies' opposition.
Points this week were shared across the team, with every player deserving of recognition for their efforts in unseasonably warm conditions. 1 point went to Monique Ingram and Anna Steel; 2 points to Jade Lee and Patrice Ingram; 3 points to Abby Schofield and Meg Bracher, and Players' player to Maree Ingram.
Cooma Fillies 12 (M. Ingram, J. Lee tries; M. Ingram 2/2 goals) def. Bega Chicks 8 (K. Apps try; J. Rogers 2/2)