When Orange Hawks scored just after half-time in Sunday’s Group 10 league tag grand final against Bathurst St Pat’s, the two blues had seized the momentum in an engrossing contest at Wade Park.
However, St Pat’s showed their finals experience to claw their way back from the six-point deficit and claim a memorable 16-12 win over the Hawks.
An intercept try to the Saints’ Bronte Emanuel sparked the comeback, which was then finished off by a Jess Scadding four-pointer with just minutes to go.
With the win St Pat’s become the first team to win three Group 10 league tag titles.
“I didn’t think we were home because I know Bec Ford’s got the best kick-off in the competition and I knew we had to get that before we could finish the game off,” he said.
“It was a funny year, an up and down one, but when it came to the semi-finals we dug in at training and gelled together well on the field.
“It feels great to be three-time champs, but credit to Hawks. They were outstanding today and they were very unlucky to get beaten. We got a few lucky bounces of the ball which helped us out.
“We have a lot more experience when it comes to finals but Hawks played better than us in that first half. We panicked, we were pushing the pass and dropping balls that we hadn’t done throughout the year.
“I’m stoked that we got the win because after that I didn’t think we would.”
It was an explosive start to the match when the Hawks’ Jacky Lyden almost raced to the try line inside the first minute.
Hawks continued to keep the pressure on in the opening stages, pinning the Saints in their own half, until a strong run from Nicole Schneider eased the pressure on the blue and white.
Saints winger Scadding made a dash down the right wing to get her side within reach of the Hawks’ try line.
On the next play Elise Woods crossed for the opening points of the game, scoring in the eighth minute.
Inside the last five minutes of the half the two blues began to find their rhythm.
Ella Harris went close to scoring, as did Sophie Humphris near the left corner post.
Just when St Pat’s looked like they were going to take a 6-0 lead into half-time the Hawks broke through thanks to Kaitlyn Phillips.
Hawks upped the pressure on St Pat’s when they scored just one minute into the new half.
St Pat’s kept their heads up despite the 12-6 deficit and soon found a way back in memorable fashion.
Emanuel pounced on a Hawks pass inside the Hawks’ red zone, sprinting to the line.
Saints struck the decisive blow when Scadding scored from a Mish Somers kick.