THE Cooma Fillies hit a hurdle on their way to a fourth consecutive grand final, going down to the Bega Chicks 2-0 on Sunday in Moruya. In weather that heralded the start of spring, the cold-climate loving Fillies definitely had a hard task ahead of them, with both teams determined to be the first to qualify for the grand final.
The Bega Chicks had all the possession in the first half of the game, cementing the Fillies at their end of the field and attacking the line with vigour. The Fillies were resoundingly the better defenders on the day and the impenetrable line of Tash Stewart, Monique Ingram, Patrice Clear, Georgie Clarke and Jane Peadon prevented Bega's attacking hopes from coming to fruition. When the Fillies gained possession of the ball, they tested Bega's line through Meg Bracher, Abby Schofield and Anna Steel, while Maree Ingram's kicking game pushed Bega slowly back towards their own line. The Bega girls had equal determination, but their options were continuously stunted by the Fillies. Fullback Kayla Jamieson and winger May Peck made good meters from their kick-return, while Bracher put her body on the line to charge down a kick from Kezie Apps. As the first half drew on, Maree Ingram demonstrated why she is the best player in this competition, kicking a powerful and unquestionable 40-20 which gave the Fillies good field position and a valuable attacking opportunity. Following a good set up the middle by Emma Sullivan, Trina Brownlie and Kirrily Carberry, Schofield was able to chip over the top of the defence and pick up a flying Jamieson on the wing. Sadly, she was already missing a tag, thus denying what would otherwise have been a clear four pointer. At half time, the score was nil all and the game was anyone's to win.
Following half time, the Fillies were quick to regain possession with Ingram's kicking game befuddling the Bega girls yet again. Attacking through Clarke, Schofield and Jade Lee got the Fillies close to the line, but Bega rallied again and nipped their efforts in the bud. An unbalanced penalty count in Bega's favour continuously got them out of trouble, and at the other end of the field, they were awarded a penalty and opted to kick for goal through Georgina Pearce, which was waved away. Strong efforts in the middle of the field from Sue Morgan, Chloe Murphy, Bec Robson and Brooke Morey propelled the Fillies forward and from a set play, they got perilously close to crossing on the flanks through Stewart, who was caught inches before the line. With two disallowed tries under their belt, the Fillies had a slight edge over the Chicks, but minutes later, a second penalty in front of the uprights gave Bega another opportunity for points and this time Kezie Apps did not miss, taking the score to 2-0. With the day's heat taking its toll on the Fillies and Bega's efforts to slow the play down limiting Cooma's attacking opportunities, the clock ran down and the Bega Chicks came away with the points.
This week, one point was shared by the defensive machine Kirrily Carberry and attacking wonder Tash Stewart; 2 points went to Abby Schofield who worked tirelessly in attack; 3 points was shared by the dazed defensive custodian Patrice Clear and light-footed Jane Peadon, while Players' Player went to the ever present and dominant Maree Ingram.
The Fillies were buoyed by their efforts, despite the final score, and Bega's choice to twice go for goal rather than test themselves against the Fillies line reflects the respect that the Fillies command in all facets of the game. A penalty count of 11-1 and limited possession in good field positions worked against the Fillies, who now face the Moruya Sharkettes in the Preliminary Final for one last chance at a grand final spot.