Gunnedah are aiming to be back bigger and better next season after falling just short of a fairytale Central North women’s 7s premiership on Saturday.
The Red Devils were outclassed by a slick Inverell side, the Highlanders running out 37-5 victors to become the first side to inscribe their name on the Viaduct Carpet Court Trophy.
Red Devils coach John Hickey said his side were shell-shocked early by an Inverell side that was “too big, too strong and too fast”.
“They bombed us very early, hit us really hard really soon and I think probably the lack of preparation through that final week with me away didn’t do them any favours,” he said.
Rhiannon Byers opened the scoring for the Highlanders a couple of minutes in and from there they took control of the contest, Byers’ second effort for the half, in which she stepped around three defenders on a 50m burst gave them a 15-nil lead at half-time.
“We had an opportunity just before half-time and I think if we’d have taken that it might have sort of given us the impetus to get rolling,” Hickey said.
“But they gave us very few opportunities. They deserved to win. They’re a far better allround side I think.”
Bec Smyth scored the Red Devils’ lone try.
Hickey said the girls were obviously disappointed to lose the grand final, but on further reflection had come to recognise what they achieved.
“They’re all very proud of themselves and I think they have a right to be. From where they started to where they’ve come I think they’ve all got a sense of achievement,” he said.
“It’s been a great learning curve and they’ve had a lot of fun.”
They were already on Sunday talking about next season.
“It (Saturday) gives us something to aim for. We know the standard,” Hickey said.
“We reached the majority of team’s standards through the year and during the off season we need to go and hit another standard with the girls.”
“They’re all keen to go again and looking forward to really sticking together and make something of it.”
He said they will take some lessons out of this season.
“The one thing we want to do is start the season off at a competitive level so we can move onto a higher level of training rather than the basic training we had to pretty much stick too all year,” Hickey said.
“Obviously fitness is one area we can work on, tackling is another.”
They put little emphasis on tackling throughout the season.
And the season isn’t over yet.
Hickey said they are planning to play in next month’s Byron Bay 7s.
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