By Lance Jenkinson
Werribee Bears have pressed the repeat button in the NRL Victoria women’s first grade competition.
The Bears are toasting consecutive premierships after overcoming local rivals Truganina Rabbitohs 24-10 in the grand final at Haines Drive Reserve on Saturday.
“It’s always exciting to win a grand final,” Bears coach Chris Kilgarriff said.
“Some people arrive at the big stage and can’t finish off.
“The vibe that the girls had once they stepped into the changing room, it was always going to be a hard, physical game and it would come down to who wanted it the most.
“Going back-to-back, we had everything to lose and we weren’t willing to sacrifice the trophy just yet.”
Werribee had the added bonus of defending the title on its home ground in front of its adoring fans.
Kilgarriff downplayed the advantage of playing in comfortable surroundings on the biggest day of the season.
“It’s always good to play on your home deck,” he said. “You don’t want anyone to beat you on your home turf.
“You’ve still got to work hard and grand finals are always hard to win.”
Werribee and Truganina have built up a fierce inter-Wyndham rivalry.
The Bears took great satisfaction in beating their neighbours in the game that mattered most.
“They’re our rival club,” Kilgarriff said.
“We’re the top two in our competition at the moment and it’s just a battle between us every time we step onto the field.”
Werribee did not have to reinvent the wheel to secure its victory.
The Bears simply controlled the ball, got dominant play from their forwards and finished off through the backs.
It was a simple but effective game plan.
“Our forwards dominated the game and set a platform for our backs,” he said.
Werribee led 14-6 at half-time.
The Bears were in control, but still wary of the threat Truganina posed.
“I just told the girls at half-time, we’re ahead, but Truganina is never going to give up,” Kilgarriff said.
“They’re a club that will fight till the end.
“We had to weather the storm in the first 10 minutes and keep dominating up the middle.
“Truganina didn’t have an onslaught, but their forwards came out more amped up, they were stronger and that’s what we had to weather and we pushed through it.”
Werribee half-back Ngahuia Blair took out the most valuable player award in the grand final. Blair’s leadership qualities came to the fore on the biggest stage.
“She plays in the halves and leads our pack around the field,” Kilgarriff said.
“She just controls our forwards, gives them direction through her vocals and her communication on the field.”
Werribee captain Tiana Kani had an outstanding game at prop. Kani produced a lot of carries and chewed up a lot of metres for the Bears.
“She led from the front,” Kilgarriff said. “She’s been an excellent leader all season.”
Second rower Jean-Shannel Robati was brilliant on the right edge for Werribee.
Goal kicker Lara Cakaunitavuki was the Bears’ leading points scorer, eclipsing 100 for the season.