NRLW Weekend Wrap – Round 5

The Broncos secured top spot on the NRLW ladder in the final round.

The final round of the NRLW’s home and away season certainly lived up to expectations, with the finals matchups decided for every club.

Here’s what we learned about your club.

St. George Illawarra Dragons vs Sydney Roosters

The St. George Illawarra Dragons have booked a top two finish in the NRLW finals on the back of a six point victory over the Roosters on Saturday afternoon.

In a low scoring affair at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, it was the Dragons who broke the deadlock, with a 16th minute try to Elsie Albert.

The Dragons came out firing in the second half, with two tries in the opening six minutes. Firstly through Kody House, followed by superstar Emma Tonegato.

Sydney, desperate to secure their spot in the finals would not go down without fighting, and responded with a try to Sarah Togatuki. This, cutting the margin to six points. However, St. George would settle thanks to a try from Madison Bartlett, putting the game beyond doubt.

Sydney responded with a late try to Isabelle Kelly in the dying stages, but it was unfortunately all too late with St. George running out victors.

St. George can largely thank superstar fullback Emma Tonegato for the victory as she put in a stellar performance on both ends of the field. Tonegato had four try-saving tackles, including one of the tackles of the season. These tackles all came in pivotal moments with the game in the balance.

Tonegato was also electric in the offensive part of her game, scoring a brilliant try, and being involved in a number of key passes in the victory.

For the Roosters, the defensive combination of Olivia Kernick and Keilee Joseph fought hard all afternoon, combining for 66 tackles. The pair, doing everything in their power to stop the might of the Dragons attack.

The victory ensured the Dragons a top two finish in the 2021 season, a massive improvement to their winless 2020 season.

Final Score: Dragons 16-10 Roosters.

Next week, the Dragons will host the Titans at Leichardt Oval, as they attempt to book their place in the 2021 Grand Final. Elsewhere, the Roosters will take on the Broncos in the contrasting semi-final, looking to avenge last season’s grand final defeat.

Gold Coast Titans vs Newcastle Knights

The Gold Coast Titans have booked their place in the NRLW finals, overcoming the lowly Knights in a thriller at Suncorp Stadium.

Newcastle broke the deadlock in the fourth minute of the match with Paige Parker scoring a try. That try converted by kicker Katelyn Vaha’akolo.

Remarkably, this would round out the low-scoring opening half with the Knights taking a six to nothing lead at the main break.

Desperate for a response, the Titans responded with a try to Jessika Elliston in the 52nd minute. Gold Coast then backed up, taking the lead with a try to superstar Hailee-Jay Maunsell in the 57th minute. Both sides would score another try, however, it was Gold Coast’s Karina Brown delivering the knockout blow with a 67th minute try.

Gold Coast can be very thankful to coach Jamie Feeney for the victory. Feeney injected youngster Cobie-Jane Morgan in the dying stages of the match. Morgan’s fresh legs allowed for the Titans to continue to burst forward, with Morgan’s crucial pass to Brown allowing Gold Coast the match winner.

From a Newcastle perspective, Kirra Dibb was at her brilliant best converting a try, and was involved with a number of key passes in the buildup as Newcastle continued to complete their sets.

The win gives the Gold Coast a spot inside the NRLW finals in their first ever season, and sees them take on the Dragons in the semi final. Meanwhile, for Newcastle they finish the season winless, and will be sure to take a lot of learnings from the season.

Final Score: Titans 14-10 Knights.

Next week, the Titans will take on the Dragons at Leichardt Oval, looking for the opportunity to earn their place in the Grand Final. Newcastle’s season has come to an end, as they look to build towards season 2022.

Brisbane Broncos vs Parramatta Eels

In Brisbane’s first game of the season at their traditional home of Suncorp Stadium, they put on an absolute show for their fans.

Coming off their first loss since 2019, the Broncos knew they needed to respond in a big way if they were to win the minor premiership. Standing in their way was a Parramatta side with all to play for, looking to play finals football.

The Broncos got the jump on their opponents straight out of the blocks, scoring two tries in six minutes, firstly through Emily Bass, followed by Amy Turner. Parramatta did respond in the 11th minute through Ellie Johnston, before the Broncos hit back before the half with a 17th minute try to Shenae Ciesiolka.

In the second half, the Broncos continued their dominant display with four tries to none. Try scorers included superstar Ali Brigginshaw, with Ciesiolka also scoring, walking away with two tries for the match.

The victory gives the Broncos their fourth straight minor premiership in the NRLW. Incredibly, this makes it four minor premierships from four attempts. Meanwhile, from an Eels perspective, they miss the finals in horrible fashion, going down by 34 points in a game that meant so much.

Adding insult to injury, Parramatta will also be without superstar Bo Vette-Welsh who has sadly torn her ACL. Vette-Welsh is set for an extended period on the sidelines. This will make it very difficult for the Eels to make their mark in the 2022 season, with no guarantees they’ll have one of the best players in the league.

For the Broncos, Shenae Ciesiolka was at her brilliant best, scoring a try in each half of the match. It was the performance of Ciesiolka that allowed the Broncos such a big victory. Ali Brigginshaw also showed her class, scoring a brilliant try in the 54th minute, securing Brisbane the minor premiership.

Final Score: Broncos 38-4 Eels.

Next week, the Broncos will take on the high flying Roosters, on Sunday afternoon, looking to win their fourth premierships in as many seasons. Meanwhile, after a dismal effort, the Eels will miss finals football and the road to season 2022 begins now.

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