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Greens gallop to fifth straight title

Group 20 rugby league
Nanjing Night Net

League tag

LEETON has extended its premiership title defence after defeating a strong West Wyalong outfit 16-6 in the Group 20 grand final.

The victory took Leeton’s reign in league tag to five consecutive titles, a winning run that stretches back to 2008. Winning five from six titles, Leeton’s only grand final loss was in the first year of the competition in 2007.

However, Sunday’s decider looked like it could go the way of that game after West Wyalong jumped out of the blocks when Caitlyn Kelly evaded the Leeton defence to score, with the conversion by Jordan Oakes providing a 6-0 lead.

The quick start even had Greens coach Warren Weir nervous.

“They put it to us,” Weir said.

“I was a bit panicky when they put the first points on the board. We haven’t had to chase a lot.”

From the restart, West Wyalong again tried to use its pace out wide, but Leeton settled and under the leadership of Kate McDonell began to grind away with darting runs and strong defence to hold West Wyalong at bay.

It was after another McDonell break and on the back of a West Wyalong mistake that Leeton scored when the Greens passed the ball out wide to Anna Poulsen, who had earlier been denied after being tagged before the line, to score. While the conversion was waved away, Leeton was chasing down the lead and trailed 6-4.

Another West Wyalong error gave Leeton good field position and the lead after Haylee McDonell ran onto a pass that allowed her to crash through the defensive line under the posts.

An easy kick by Kayla Marks provided a 10-6 break into half-time.

Weir settled his side in the sheds, reinforcing their structure and encouraging them.

“You’re going alright, stay calm,” is what he told them.

“It’ll be right.”

The defence of both sides was a highlight in the second half, including Cecilia Smith taking a low hard kick on the full on her tryline. Kate McDonell made significant metres, while West Wyalong threw away its best chance to score with a wide pass left that went into touch.

While it looked like the scores may remain unchanged, winger Sophie Welsh sealed the deal for the Greens when she took a pass on her own 30-metre line, ran around the West Wyalong line, accelerated and cut back infield to avoid the stretching fullback and scored under the posts unhindered for a 16-6 lead.

The Greens continued to attack, but also threw everything into defence knowing they just needed to hold West Wyalong out, which they did for eight minutes to take the title.

“The girls stayed composed and played well,” Weir said.

“Kate McDonell was good under pressure.

“The young girls went good, stayed composed. The pressure can get to some people.”

McDonell was named best on ground in the final.

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League tag

Leeton 16 (tries: Sophie Welsh, Haylee McDonell, Anna Poulsen; goals: Kayla Marks 2) d West Wyalong 6 (tries: Caitlyn Kelly; goals: Jordan Oakes)

Best on ground: Kate McDonell (Leeton Greens)

LEETON celebrates its fifth consecutive Group 20 league tag title at EW Moore Oval on Sunday.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.