The St.George Queensland Reds have secured their first win of the 2021 Buildcorp Super W season, outscoring the Melbourne Rebels three-tries-to-two, claiming a 17-12 victory in Coffs Harbour.
The opening exchanges of the match saw the Melbourne side come out of the blocks firing, and the Victorians worked their way close to the Reds line and nearly crossed for the first try of the match, but were held up over the line.
The Reds regained possession and a break from Kauna Lopa led to a try for Ivania Wong in the 17th minute. Lucy Lockhart missed the conversion leaving the score at 5-nil.
The Rebels were back inside the Reds 22m just minutes later and this time made no mistake with Ashley Marsters crossing for Melbourne’s first try. Scrumhalf Georgia Cormick slotted the conversion to edge the Rebels ahead 7-5 in the 24th minute.
The two teams continued to exchange blows, but handling errors limited opportunities for both teams until late in the half, with Queensland crossing for their second try through Lopa off the back of a break from Melanie Wilks, which saw the centre draw in the Rebels defence before delivering a perfect pass to Lopa to score in the corner.
Lockhart’s conversion attempt sailed just left of the uprights, leaving the score at 10-7 as the two sides headed into the sheds at half-time.
The second stanza started in a similar fashion to the first, with the Rebels piling on the pressure early. The Melbourne side continued to pick-and-drive and were again held up over the line in the 50th minute.
It wasn’t until the 63rd minute that the Victorians managed to convert their pressure into points, with captain Melanie Kawa picking from the base of the ruck and splitting the Queensland defence to dot down and put the Rebels in the lead 12-10.
Behind on the score-board, Queensland looked to their bench for impact. Wallaroos prop, and mother of five, Hilisha Samoa came on to deliver big hits and hold up the scrum, but it was youngster April Ngatupuna who would cross for the match-deciding try in the 71st minute.
Ngatupuna picked from the base of the scrum, got on the outside shoulder of the Melbourne defenders and managed to charge over for the Reds. Lockhart slotted the conversion giving Queensland a 17-12 lead.
The Melbourne side had a late attacking opportunity inside the Reds half in the final minute of the match, but missed a kick for touch from a penalty which Wilks regathered before kicking the ball into the crowd to end the match.
Head coach Rama Chand said: “The Rebels played really well today, they executed their game plan and kept the ball in tight and we played to their strengths.
“We didn’t dominate the breakdown and contact zone as we intended, we managed to create opportunities in the wider channels but then we gave away turnovers and penalties.
“A lot of the match was played at the wrong end of the field for us, but we started to play smarter in the second half and held the Rebels in their half.
“I’m glad we got the win, you learn a lot from tight games like this and the team know that they can improve.
“We saw the President’s XV get over the Brumbies today, the Rebels put out a solid performance, each team is improving and it’s great for the competition as a whole and the growth of Women’s Rugby.”
Queensland Reds 17 (Wong, Lopa, Ngatupuna tries; Lockart conv) defeated the Melbourne Rebels 12 (Marsters, Kawa tries; Cormick conv)