St George Illawarra captain Kezie Apps has called for the NRWL season to be extended to enable teams to spend more time developing after the Dragons were outgunned 30-6 by Brisbane in the grand final at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.
After suffering their only defeat in two seasons against the Warriors last week, the Broncos hit back with a clinical dismantling of a Dragons side which battled bravely with little possession or field position before injuries took their toll.
Teenage forward Maddison Weatherall was taken to Concord Hospital after suffering a sickening gash to her leg before half-time, while lock Holli Wheeler and interchange forward Takilele Kato succumbed to shoulder injuries.
With just one player remaining on the bench, halfback Maddie Studdon (elbow) and hooker Brittany Breayley (ankle) played on after receiving treatment as coach Daniel Lacey reshuffled his side.
Lacey and Apps admitted the occasion may have got to their young side, and the Dragons and NSW skipper said she was disappointed they hadn’t been able to put on a better performance for the 36,785 fans in attendance and others watching on television.
“I know the two teams that were in the grand final last year played really early and there wasn’t really anyone there to watch them so it was a massive step forward for the game to have so many people coming in to watch us play,” Apps said.
“It might have even been the first time a lot of them were watching women’s rugby league so I apologise that our game wasn’t the best that we can probably play.
“I would love to have a longer competition so we can showcase what this team is really capable of and just build those combinations. The more time we get to spend together the better footy we do get to play so hopefully next year that is on the cards.”
The Holden NRL Women’s Premiership comprises of just three rounds before the grand final - after losing 14-4 in their first match against Brisbane, the Dragons turned in impressive performances against the Warriors and Roosters but were no match for the Broncos in the decider.
With 43 per cent possession they had to make almost 100 more tackles than Brisbane and the defensive workload took its toll.
“The stats really don’t lie and I don’t need to bring them up, it was obvious that we got outplayed and all credit to the Broncos,” Lacey said.
“It was close to 15 minutes and I was getting a call saying we had 10 per cent possession and were sitting at a 50 per cent completion rate.”
While the Dragons trailed just 10-0 at half-time, Lacey knew the game was as good as over after their horror start.
However, he was confident the club was heading in the right direction after winning the Under 18s Tarsha Gale Cup grand final and qualifying for the NRLW decider after finishing last in 2018.
“It is big game experience and we have got a young team there with an average of 23,” Lacey said. “We can’t find any positives now but in 24 hours I’ll be over it and I’ll be looking towards next year
“I am really proud of this club and what it represents, especially in the women’s space. We are the only club that has five [female] teams that we support in this and some clubs don’t want to put their hands up but we are.
“We look forward to the review, we did a review last year after we came last and we are in the grand final so that is what we will be doing next year. We will be going one better.”