A clinical first-half performance has seen the New South Wales Waratahs defeat the St.George Queensland Reds 47-26 in their Buildcorp Super W opener at Easts Rugby Union Club.
The visitors ran in five tries to one in a dominant opening forty-minutes, before a more even second half saw the Waratahs claim a 21-point win, with winger Maya Stewart scoring four tries of her own.
Eleven players made their Queensland and Super W debuts in the loss, with Tiarna Molloy, Annabelle Codey, Carola Kreis, April Ngatupuna, Loretta Lealiifano, Diaz Seumanutafa, Luisa Sekona, Sophie Holyman, Maletina Brown, Madi Schuck, Theresa Soloai all making their first appearance in the maroon jersey.
Head coach Rama Chand said: “At this level you can’t start slow against a team like the Tahs, they were very accurate in their set-piece and attack and we didn’t do the job we needed to do in defence in the first-half.
“We expected that type of chunkiness’, we were hoping for more, but I’m just really glad we came back in that second-half.
“We won it 19-14 and I’m really pleased that the players coming off the bench who we thought were going to have an impact did.
“All 11 of our debutants coming on did really well and can hold their heads up high.
“Part of this year’s program for us is to try and get players exposed to the next level. We need to get the girls playing at Super W level and this is a great challenge playing a red-hot New South Wales team in Round 1.
“For us now, our focus and our goal is to pick up from that and improve going into the Rebels.”
Piper Duck opened the scoring for the visitors, the back rower charging on to a Georgie Friedrichs short ball to score after a number of phases on the Queensland line. Arabella McKenzie made no mistake with the conversion to open up a 7-nil lead in the fifth minute.
Stewart finished off a slick backline sequence for the Waratahs second try in the 12th minute, and the winger soon had a second five-pointer to extend her side’s lead to 19-nil.
Stewart was shown a yellow-card in the 24th minute to reduce New South Wales to 14 players and the Reds capitalised, Christina Sekona bulldozing her way through the defence from close range to score Queensland’s first try of their 2021 campaign.
Stewart quickly made her presence known when she returned to the field, sending her opposite winger Margot Vella over the line for the Waratahs’ fourth try.
The winger was in the action again on the stoke of half-time, Stewart showcasing her blinding speed to outpace the Reds’ defence and complete her first-half hat-trick. McKenzie slotted her fourth conversion of the afternoon to give her side a 33-5 lead at the half-time break.
Stewart made it four tries to open the second stanza for the visitors, before Reds front rower Bree-Anna Cheatham hit back, driving her way over the line to score Queensland’s second try of the afternoon. Lucy Lockhart added the extras to bring the score to 40-12 with 30-minutes of play remaining.
A dangerous tackle saw the Waratahs reduced to 13 women for the second time with McKenzie sent from the field, but Queensland were unable to make the most of their advantage in the next 10-minutes.
Lesa Kaleti Mataafa had Queensland’s third try in the 71st minute, Kaleti Mataafa busting the line and beating a number of defenders in a powerful solo effort. Lockhart slotted her second conversion to make the score 40-19.
New South Wales again responded with a try of their own, a Mahalia Murphy fend propelling the fullback through the defence and over the line for her sides seventh try of the afternoon.
Cecilia Smith crossed for a late consolation try in the final minutes, as the outside-centre stepped her way through the line to score her first try of the season and make the final margin 47-26.
Queensland travel to Coffs Harbour next weekend to face the Melbourne Rebels in Round 2 on Sunday 27 June at 1:00pm.