St Pat's awaiting Panthers in an all-Bathurst affair
By MICHELLE COOK
IT will be an all-Bathurst women's league tag grand final after Panthers downed Orange Hawkettes in yesterday's preliminary final.
Panthers will take on Bathurst St Pat's in the decider in the inaugural year of the women's competition.
Panthers had the better of the possession and the field position in yesterday's game at Wade Park and turned it in to points.
They were up 16-4 at the break and continued to build their lead in the second half.
Panthers coach Scott Traynor was thrilled to have another crack at St Pat's after losing the major semi-final to them.
"The girls, after last week, were a bit disappointed. I was a bit worried about them today but they played really well. I was very happy," Traynor said.
The coach said his team's completion rate, winning the field possession battle and kicking to the corner were all strong elements of their game against Hawkettes.
The first half was tight with Monique Christie-Johnson scoring for Panthers and Yasmin Radburn converting before Kelly Sullivan ran in four points for Hawkettes.
Tries to Claire Woolmington and Christie-Johnston, as well as another Radburn conversion, gave Panthers the 12-point lead at the break.
The two sides traded blows early in the second half with Jess Hotham scoring for Panthers before Aleasha Clinghan added four points for Hawkettes.
Panthers then picked up speed and Hotham put on two more tries to seal the win.
Hawkettes coach Tenielle Hill had mixed feelings about the game.
"They didn't play to their full potential but as we just said to the girls, they can't be disappointed - first year and they've come third," Hill said.
"They've just got lift their heads and get ready for next season."
Hill said mistakes cost her team but added Panthers played well.
Panthers were well-served by Christie-Johnson, Radburn and Danielle Kirkland while Bree Wright and Gemma Kelly were strong for Hawkettes.
Panthers will take on Bathurst St Pat's in Sunday's grand final in Lithgow.
BATHURST PANTHERS 30 (Jess Hotham 3, Monique Christie-Johnson 2, Claire Woolmington tries; Yasmin Radburn 3 goals) def ORANGE HAWKETTES 8 (Kelly Sullivan, Aleasha Clinghan tries).