Twelve months ago there was no North Newcastle women’s team.
After forming the Maidens lost their first two games of the season by almost 100 combined points.
Now the rookie squad has qualified for the 2017 NSW Women’s Premiership grand final and inaugural coach Mick Young couldn’t be prouder.
“It’s a reward for all of their hard work and I’m just so happy for them to make a grand final,” Young said.
“Some of the girls started training in November and we didn’t even know if we were going to have a team. Some of the girls travel from as far as Port Macquarie, Taree, Singleton and Penrith. Some of the girls are working mothers.
“They just genuinely love rugby league and to see how far they’ve come in such a short time frame is unbelievable.
“They lost their first two games of the year by almost 100 and have stuck at it and now they get such a great opportunity.”
North Newcastle stayed composed in Sunday’s 20-14 preliminary final victory against Glenmore Park at Leichhardt Oval, scoring three unanswered tries in quick succession midway through the second half to overcome a 10-point deficit.
“I never had doubt there, I was just more worried about the way we were playing,” Young said.
“But only being 10-4 down and not playing well, I knew if we could just hold the ball and get back to our game we would be a chance.”
Maidens centre Isabelle Kelly, a NSW and Australian representative vying for a World Cup spot later this year, crossed in either half to take her finals tally to seven from three appearances.
This featured a hat-trick in last weekend’s 28-20 minor semi-final win over Mounties and another double against Greenacre in a 32-18 elimination semi-final triumph.
North Newcastle will now meet minor premiers the Redfern All Blacks in the state showdown at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday (4:20pm).
NORTH NEWCASTLE 20 (Isabelle Kelly 2, Theresa Wilhelmus, Holli Wheeler tries; Wheeler, Moran goals) defeated GLENMORE PARK 14 (Thalia Hunter, Monique Donovan, Anneliese Hughes tries; Stevie-Lee Foster goal)