Women’s rugby: Stewart stars as Tahs swamp Wanderers to complete perfect campaign

Going into the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union women’s grand final Kaveiloni Vikilani warned The Waratahs about “getting a flat tyre”.

But the Reds coach need not have worried as the Tahs powered to their first women’s title with a comprehensive 69-5 win over nine-time champions Wanderers at No.2 Sportsground on Saturday.

The Waratahs were one of the first teams to play in Hunter women’s rugby but only returned to the competition this year after a lengthy absence.

Vikilani was full of praise for his charges, who were unbeaten this year and completed their fairytale return with the grand final victory.

“I was very proud of the girls and their performance after having three weeks off and it being a grand final,” Vikilani said.

“We had a good start and they maintained their composure, which is just playing for each other and supporting each other.

“It was my first year coaching the women's team and I was so blessed to have a great bunch of girls that wanted to work really hard and wanted to do really well in rugby.”

The Tahs led 29-0 at the break. Ashlee Williams produced a Two Blues try early in the second half but that was to be the Wanderers’ only points of the game.

Outside centre Maya Stewart scored four tries in the dominant display. Tahlia Goldsmith scored two tries to go with seven conversions for a personal tally of 24 points. Bobbi Law also scored a double.

Stewart, Goldsmith and Law are members of the New England University sevens team which plays in the nationals series. 

And it was their pace and power which set the tone for the Tahs.

“Maya is very talented,” Vikilani said. “It’s her first year playing and her talent is just raw talent … and Tahlia, our captain, always leads from the front.”

It was a fairytale comeback for Theresa Ngungutau, who had not played rugby for 10 years and came out of retirement to be part of the Tahs’ campaign alongside her sisters Jen and Minah Mauli.

“We all had one goal and that was to win a premiership and we did it undefeated throughout the whole season and we played a fantastic game,” Ngungutau said.

“It's been good for The Waratahs but good for Hunter women's rugby as well. Everyone has worked so hard this year.

“We've come from different clubs and all have our own reasons for coming - people at the club, location, family and what we want for the future of rugby.”