Bigger squad sizes and a longer season must be on the agenda after the Dragons were forced to run out with only 16 players in their 22-10 loss to the Warriors on Saturday afternoon.
St George Illawarra finished winless and with the wooden spoon after they ran out of gas against a Warriors side that was full of energy following a stirring pre-game Haka.
Fitness was always going to be an issue in steamy conditions in Sydney’s west, and the Dragons unsurprisingly faded after crossing for the opening try through debutant Teagan Berry.
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Isabelle Kelly after being injured last week. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
With rep stars Kezie Apps and Isabelle Kelly already missing, the Red V received a further blow when three players were ruled out before kick-off, forcing them to play one short on the bench.
It’s why the game must look to increase squads from 22 next season, especially if the competition expands to six teams or goes from three regular season matches to six.
Season 2020 may have been a disaster for the Dragons, but the Warriors can take plenty from their three matches given they were without so many of their first-choice options.
Their free-flowing attack was a joy to watch as they offloaded at will, Kirra Dibb controlled everything on the right and Evania Pelite ran riot on the left as the points flowed in the second half.
Her positional play was questionable last week, but there is no doubting Ellia Green’s strength after she unleashed the tackle of the year on Dragons star Jess Sergis. The one-on-one battle between the pair was the highlight of an error-riddled first half, and it was the sevens star who came out on top in her best performance of the campaign.
Green got the ball rolling with her side’s first try after nine minutes, but it was her hit on Sergis late in the half that got her trending on social media when she jammed in off her wing and cut the reigning Dally M medalist in half.
Sergis had some nice touches in the second half but it was all about the Green Machine as the cross-code star said farewell to rugby league with 168 metres from nine runs to go with three line-breaks.
WARRIORS 22 def DRAGONS 10
Warriors: Tries: Ellia Green 9’, Madison Bartlett 22’, Shaniah Power 42’, Evania Pelite 47’, Shaniah Power 50’. Conversions: Kirra Dibb (1/5)
Dragons: Tries: Teagan Berry 7’, Aaliyah Fasavalu-Fa’amausili 57’. Conversions: Teagan Berry (1/2)
The evolution of an NRLW enforcer
Hannah Southwell could be preparing for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup right now.
Instead, you’ll find her down at Leichhardt Oval hitting tackle pads with the Sydney Roosters undefeated NRLW side.
Southwell was the W-League’s youngest ever goalkeeper when she was 15, back in 2014.
She played two seasons at the Newcastle Jets and was even called into a Matilda’s training squad – but there was one problem.
Hannah Southwell gets up and under Christine Pauli of the Dragons. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
“I just love hitting people,” Southwell said.
“When I was 12 and couldn’t play rugby league anymore, (football) was the closest thing at the time to any sort of contact, which is what I love,
“I played goalkeeper, I had terrible feet, couldn’t kick to save my life, but I had good hands so they chucked me into that.”
Southwell’s passion for tackling dates back to when she was just 5-years-old.
Every afternoon, she’d drag her father and brother to their backyard to go through contact drills.
“Dad used to drill my brother Matt and I, because we played in the same team,” Southwell said.
“He made sure we stuck every tackle, made sure our runs were hard. It’s definitely from dad, making sure he was perfect.”
Now, the Australian Jillaroo is arguably the best tackler in the women’s game.
Ruan Sims praised Southwell for her impeccable technique.
“She started as an outside back, she moved to the second row now she’s solidified herself as a ball-playing lock for the Jillaroos and NSW,” Sims said.
“Her tackle technique, it’s textbook perfect, I love watching her defend. When she gets into the line she can put on late footwork and wrong-foot the defence.”
Southwell admitted that it has taken her years to perfect her technique and that she’s always working to improve it.
NRLW Sydney Roosters star Hannah Southwell at a training session. (Source: Sydney Roosters)Source:Supplied
“It took a lot of practice, lots of repetition. You get a few head knocks because you’re tackling quite low and if you’re not getting it right you’ll get hit in the head, so you have to make sure you stick your tackles,” Southwell said.
“From there, you get a feel for it, you know where the bodies are, you get a feel for the other person, and you know when their body’s given up.”
Southwell said that the undefeated Roosters are feeling confident ahead of today’s clash against reigning champions the Brisbane Broncos.
While they’re without Rugby Sevens star Charlotte Caslick, the Chooks are set to unleash another secret weapon – Taleena Simon.
The livewire returns to the field after missing the 2019 NRLW team through pregnancy.
“Taleena killed it the first year, I played against her when I was with the Dragons, I remember thinking, “far out this chick can run,” she’s a fantastic addition,” Southwell said.
“We love to go in as underdogs … there’s no real pressure on us, which is awesome. I can’t wait to go out there and give it to them, see what we can do as a team for the next two weeks.”
Star winger Taleena Simon is set to make her NRLW comeback. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
NRLW Round 3, Saturday October 17 at Allianz Stadium
Dragons v Warriors, 12:30pm
NRLW Roosters v Broncos, 4pm
Originally published asNRLW farce as Dragons forced to play one short
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