Emu Girls score gritty grand final win
RUGBY LEAGUE: The Emu Girls prevailed in a gripping grand final to claim back-to-back titles at the Warba Wangarunya Rugby League Carnival.
The talented outfit ran out 20-18 winners in a dour contest which many described as one of the best games seen in the carnival's history.
Mackay Hunters took the honours in the hotly contested men's division with a 26-10 win over Black Magic.
A record 24 teams - 16 men and eight women - took part in the annual carnival played at Rockhampton's Rugby Park.
The Emu Girls went through their pool games undefeated, scoring solid wins over Bowen's Buccaneers, Byellee Possums and Dubz Up.
They met Flora Sandilands Memorial in the semi-final, which they won comfortably.
That set up a grand final showdown against FNQ Stingers, who had travelled from Townsville determined to make their mark on the event.
Emu Girls' coach Jason Field said it was a hard-fought final and a great exhibition of women's rugby league.
"They proved very hard to beat. They had some good quality players and quite a few rep players in their side as well.
"It was a great contest and we were lucky to get away with the win."
The northerners got off to an ideal start and were leading 12-nil early in the first half.
But the Emu Girls managed to find their rhythm and wrestled back the lead to go into the half-time break ahead at 14-12.
The Stingers scored first in the second half to get their noses in front but the Emu Girls hit back with about 10 minutes to go to lead 20-18.
They worked hard to maintain the lead and ultimately claim a well-deserved victory.
Front rower Layla Fauid, lock Sarah Field and hooker Taylah Gray were among the Emu Girls' best.
Field said while it was not the team's best performance, he was impressed at how his players stayed in the game and toughed it out to the final whistle.
"They stick together as a team, they know each other and they play for each other," he said.
"It was a great competition at the weekend.
"I think that of all the carnivals we've travelled to, it would be the most competitive we've been to over the last four years.
"It was really good to see so many people at the carnival enjoying some fantastic footy and entertainment."