Former Tumut Bullettes Monique Toppin, Tammy Murdoch, Kayla Lubke and Clare Harpley have helped Wagga Agriculture College to an upset grand final win over Reddies in their Southern Inland Rugby Union women’s 10s decider at Conolly Park on Saturday.
A clinical Aggies, who were playing in their first every SIRU 10s decider, starved a previously unbeaten and star-studded Reddies of possession, dominating the middle third of the field before finishing the contest 22-19 winners.
The underdogs led 17-nil in the early stages, and kept the ball out of the hands of speedsters Tess Staines and Ellen McIntyre for most of the match, while the likes of Harpley, Toppin and Murdoch paved the way through the middle.
There were some nervous moments late in the match for Ag College, with the game opening up for Staines and McIntyre, but it would prove too little, too late with Aggies taking the spoils.
Harpley was rewarded for her efforts, scoring two tries, and can probably be considered very unlucky not be named best on ground.
Playing at full back, Harpley was everywhere and proved the difference between the sides in the first half.
While in one of her best performances of the season, Murdoch was very impressive, with strong runs and tough work at the break down.
Murdoch even laid the platform for the final try of the game.
The workaholic forward didn’t want to focus on her own efforts though, and hoped this success meant the Tumut Bullettes would return in 2021.
“It means a lot, we didn’t think we would of been able to play at all at the start of the season and we’re really lucky Aggies took us in and we hope it means the girls who never played this year, will want to play to have the chance to get in and go through what we did and keep building on our home side,” Murdoch said.
Murdoch explained that it was a predetermined plan to keep the lion’s share of possession and starve Reddies of any attacking opportunities, which worked really well on the day.
“Our main goal was to keep it in the middle and then get it out (wide),” Murdoch said.
“We had a few trips on the line outs, which seemed to get us a bit of distance in defence; our goal was to mark up and not get pulled in to the ruck and to shut their wing down and luckily we had the ball for the majority of the game.”
Toppin, who was playing in her first rugby grand final, backed up Murdoch’s comments, and said a forward orientated game, backed up by a determined Aggies outfit, made for a winning recipe.
“Our plan was definitely to shut them down before it got out (wide) and maintain possession, which we did very well,” Toppin said.
“We had some great pilfers and clean outs from our girls and we really controlled the game, which definitely helped win the game for us.
“We also went in there with the heart to play the best game we could, and to finally beat those Chalks was just amazing.”
Unfortunately, Lubke didn’t get on the field in the decider, but the Tumut forward was integral to Aggies fortunes in 2020, and celebrated the win with her teammates.
“It’s an awesome feeling, I wasn’t too sure if I wanted laugh or cry, but it ended up being a little bit of both,” Lubke said.
“It was great that three teams could come together as one and take out the 2020 premiership. (We) couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of girls.”