Waratahs win in Super Rugby Women's opener

March 16, 2024 9:05 pm


The NSW Waratahs have taken the first step towards redemption with a season-opening 45-10 Super Rugby Women’s victory over the ACT Brumbies.

After winning the first four editions of the competition, then losing the 2022 title match to the Fijiana Drua, the Waratahs suffered their first-ever semi-final defeat last year after going through the regular season as undefeated minor premiers.

That second crushing loss to the Drua is driving the Tahs’ quest for atonement in 2024, with skipper Piper Duck conceding the entire squad had been stewing throughout the summer.

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The hurt and hunger showed as Duck delivered an inspirational captain’s knock to lead NSW to a seven-tries-to-one triumph at Allianz Stadium on Saturday.

The powerhouse No.8 had a hand in the first four tries, collecting two herself, while dynamic winger Maya Stewart bagged a hat-trick.

Five-eighth Arabella McKenzie slotted five conversions as the Tahs – boasting 14 Wallaroos – won in style.

It’s not a stretch, though, to say the home team may not have won without Duck and classy flanker Emily Chancellor on the park.

After making a dream start with two tries in the opening 12 minutes and barely giving the Brumbies a look-in, the Waratahs were warned after conceding six straight penalties.

Despite a 10-minute period of dominance in the NSW half, the visitors could only manage a penalty goal from five-eighth Faitala Moleka.

Then the Waratahs immediately regained possession from the restart and delivered a hammer blow coach killer with a try after halftime to extend their lead to 21-3.

Duck started the movement with a subtle short pass to Chancellor, who looked certain to score before stumbling metres short of the line and popping up the pass for her captain to notch her double.

Under more pressure in the second half from the spirited Brumbies outfit, the hosts almost inevitably lost prop Emily Robinson to the sin bin for pulling down a maul.

The Brumbies notched their only try during their one-player advantage, through prop Sally Fuesaina in the 50th minute.

But Stewart snuffed out any hopes of a Brumbies comeback win with her second try six minutes later.

Centre Georgina Friedrichs and replacement back Tatum Bird also crossed either side of Stewart completing her treble to round out the statement win.

“I’m extremely happy with that performance,” Duck said.

“First game of the season, we had a really solid four trial games leading into that and I think it really shows.

“The pre-season that we’ve had has been such hot tier and I’m really proud of the girls tonight.”